Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB
Original title: Ying xiong
Hong Kong/China, 2002. Beijing New Picture Film Co., , Elite Group Enterprises, Sil-Metropole Organisation, Zhang Yimou Studio. Screenplay by Feng Li, Bin Wang, Yimou Zhang. Cinematography by Christopher Doyle. Produced by William Kong, Yimou Zhang. Music by Dun Tan. Production Design by Tingxiao Huo, Zhenzhou Yi. Costume Design by Emi Wada. Film Editing by Angie Lam, Vincent Lee, Ru Zhai. Academy Awards 2002. Berlin Film Festival 2003. Golden Globe Awards 2002.
Gorgeous martial arts film stars the enigmatic Jet Li as the nameless warrior in Chinese legend who was a key player in creating the unified China. He appears in the court of the King of the Qin dynasty to tell him that he has taken care of the three deadly assassins who were out to kill him. Qin’s leader is out to conquer other independent states in an effort to make China a single nation, but his methods involve massive bloodshed and this doesn’t go down well with the people of other lands. The story of Li’s run-ins with the assassins is told in three different ways, with explosions of gorgeous colour used to describe each one: red for imagination, blue for perceived reality, white for truth and an epilogue in green for enlightenment and peace. The fight scenes are expertly choreographed and the cinematography impeccable, with a standout supporting performance by the ever fascinating Maggie Cheung (as one of the assassins) really highlighting a memorable film experience. Director Zhang Yimou, normally a master of sumptuous period dramas (Raise The Red Lantern, Shanghai Triad) or low-glamour modern day docudramas (The Story Of Qiu Ju, Not One Less) takes to the genre of action films with no awkward steps at all, though his heavily stylized camerawork sometimes keeps the viewer from being too affected by the emotional turns the story takes. Also stars Ziyi Zhang, star of the film’s (superior) predecessor Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.