Old Fart Who Loves Japanese Pop Culture 日本の大衆文化を愛する中年

Japanese Dramas, Manga, Anime and Japanese Movies, Jpop, and anything else about Japanese pop culture that I find interesting.


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Monday, October 23, 2006

The Banquet

Wu Luan is banished when his father the Emperor of 900 AD China marries Wu Luan’s girlfriend making her Empress Wan and Wu Luans stepmother. When his Uncle murders his father and marries his stepmother assassins are dispatched to finalize his uncle’s new position as Emperor Li. The assassins’ arrival at the theater where Wu Laun studies ignites the first of the marvelous fight sequences. The amphitheater is multileveled with ramps connecting the different areas . The assassins slide down the ramps and fly through the air as they decimate all of the masked actors in a beautiful wuxia ballet of death in their attempt to murder Wu Luan.

Thus begins the Wuxia adaptation of Hamlet however the stories main focus is on the Empress Wan as she tries to save her stepson and former lover from the same fate that befell his father.

The film is beautifully shot the outdoor scenes taking advantage of the natural beauty of the landscape while the interior scenes at the place and amphitheater are gorgeous and impart an epic feel to the story.

The acting is also quite nice, with Zhang Ziyi being the standout in her portrayal of Empress Wan. Her acting has matured quite a bit since I first saw her in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Her fight scenes are also quite good. Daniel Wu as Wu Laun and You Ge as Emperor Li both give fine performances.

The fight scenes are beautifully staged and shot by all involved. The opening fight sequence in the amphitheater is my personal favorite. My only complaint is there are not enough fights, but I understand that this is a limitation of the source material. I’m sure when Shakespeare wrote it he never envisioned its adaptation to wuxia.

I would highly recommend this movie to anyone who likes wuxia, historical epics, or someone looking for a neat twist to Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

Trailer from YouTube

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