The Legend Of The Black Scorpion


(out of 5)

Original title:  Ye Yan

Alternate title:  The Banquet

Shakespeare’s Hamlet is loosely reworked as a Chinese epic in this incredibly beautiful but shallow drama. After a powerful emperor mysteriously dies, his brother steps into the role of the nation’s leader and marries his former sister-in-law (), a young woman who was originally the love of her first husband’s son. When Zhang’s new stepson learns that there was possible treachery in his father’s death, he leaves his pastoral life in the country to return to the imperial palace and teach his uncle a lesson or two about revenge. Such gorgeous sets and costumes have rarely been seen in film (in fact, one particular set was the largest ever built in China for a film), but the scenes not involving Yuen Wo-Ping’s stunning fight choreography are filled with listless dialogue, and even the twist on the Bard’s original plot (having the mother be the instigator of tragedy in this particular case) doesn’t make it any more than a surface rendering of the story. Zhang isn’t up to the demands of the role (originally to be played by Gong Li before a scheduling conflict prevented her participation), and this is a serious blow to the drama’s success.


China, 2006

Directed by

Screenplay by , ,  based on the play Hamlet by

Cinematography by

Produced by ,

Music by

Production Design by

Costume Design by

Film Editing by

Toronto International Film Festival 2006


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