Grinnygranny won't watch a movie with subtitles so I couldn't get her to watch this one. Believe it or not there are some really good movies made somewhere other than in Hollywood. Gerard Depredeau's Danton and Cyrano De Bourgerac are excellent. One of the perks of having summers off is that I can rent movies I want to see while the wife is at work. Drives her crazy.
I just watched Curse of the Golden Flower with Chou Young Phat. It was visually stunning. The sets, scenery and costumes were lavish, plush, colorful -- a veritable feast for the eyes. The subtitles were under the screen in black and readable. (My biggest complaint with most foreign movies is that the subtitles get washed out.)
The plot is similar to The Lion in Winter. Really nasty palace intrigue. The movie revolves around the Emperess who is forced to take hourly doses of medicine and the Emperor is poisoning her. She knows it, but can do nothing to stop it. The Crown Prince thinks his mother is dead, but she's really the wife of the Imperial Doctor helping poison the Emperess. The Emperess has seduced the Crown Prince, who is also having a fling with the daughter of the Imperial Doctor -- major problem when they learn they are actually half brother and sister. The Emperess does have two sons the eldest is the most capable at ruling...
Hey, it's palace intrigue the plot has to be complicated.
The Imperial Doctor is made the Governor of a province when the Emperor learns he is married to the Crown Prince's mother. Once outside the palace they are attacked and from that point on it is battle after battle. The youngest brother attacks first, but doesn't have that strong of a followiing. The middle son, Jai makes it into the inner courtyard with his troops. The entire courtyard is covered with chrysanthemums which are trampled while the battle rages. The fighting is intense, but not bloody like Braveheart, Henry V or Saving Private Ryan. The Emperors assassins sent to kill the Doctor's family climbs down on ropes and throw swords with a boomerang effect, but there's none of the silly flying over rooftops and trees like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Once the battle is over the courtyard is cleaned up and all the flowers replaced by thousands of workers and in a matter of minutes all traces of the battle are erased. It was amazing.
I won't divulge the outcome, but it did catch me by surprise. It finishes with a beautiful song as the closing credits roll. Reading the subtitles of the song it is a really touching poem.
Chou Young Phat was the only actor in the movie I knew about. He was King of Siam in Anna and the King and is a truly gifted actor. The Emperess was spectacular and is evidently the top actress of China -- for good reason.
If you feel like watching a truly spectacular movie this is the one to rent. See it at night with no other distractions -- you need undivided attention for the subtitles to follow the story.