Director: Yimou Zhang
Starring: Chao Deng, Li Sun, Ryan Zheng, Qianyuan Wang, Jingchun Wang, Jun Hu, Xiaotong Guan, Lei Wu
In a complicated opening we learn that the Commander has been replaced by a “Shadow” raised since he was a child to protect his master from palace intrigues. There was a lot going on in the opening scenes and I kept falling asleep due to being tired. It doesn’t help that the movie is slow paced on purpose to develop the characters and situations more.
The kingdom has had its’ home city taken over and the king advises against trying to retake it by force. The commander ads his two cents and ends up being stripped of his rank by the king and dismissed. Another peace offer involving the king offering the princess for marriage backfires when the prince wants her to be a concubine instead.
The commander and his double train to try and defeat his adversary in the challenge but are getting nowhere. Madame suggests that they use a parasol and move in a more feminine way, que lots of fluid movement and swishing water.
The double goes to the duel, knowing that he is not meant to win it and just act as a distraction for some other fighters to sneak into the city. Amongst the fighters is the princess who is seeking revenge after being slighted by the concubine offer. Will the plot succeed? Who lives and who dies? Will there finally be some action? Well I’ll let you find that out for yourself.
While there is no problem with the staging, costumes and sets the pacing was a bit slow for my liking and I was waiting for it to get to the action.
Great performances all round especially from the princess who gives it to the prince who slighted her.
When it does finally get to the fight scenes they are well staged and artistic. The scene with the fighters surfing down the hill on the steel umbrellas is a bit silly but not played for laughs.
I would recommend this movie if you would like a historical drama with some action thrown in.