Curse of the Golden Flower
I am no longer surprised by the sort of the ending crazed egomaniac director can feed their audiences at career-end. Zhang Yimou's Curse of the Golden Flower was more than good for the first half of it. I thought, all this preemptive worrying that it would be like House of the Flying Daggers was perhaps not justified? Wrong. Oh, so wrong. It wasn't the type of What The Hell that makes me regret paying for my entrance ticket - more the sort that you laugh out loud with your partners in crime. Yes, that's it. Just like why Seven Swords is meant for a genre and localized crowd to appreciate.
Some people behind laughed when Jay Chou, who does a Taiwanese pop/rap singer for daytime job, appeared on the screen, with a goatee, and soldier equipment on him. There were a lot of Asian people, and probably Chinese people, from the language spoken in the theater before the movie started; I expected a mostly White arthouse crowd, but man, I was so wrong. I should've known after Zhang Yimou's latest movies, which all sort of fit in the action/wushu genre. The audience was young and Asiaphile, just like us. I didn't recognize Chow Yun-fat, in the role of the emperor, for about two and a half scenes he was in, perhaps because I didn't know he did such a natural Mandarin or because of the goatee too.
Jay Chou - Ju Hua Tai
The first half of the movie is a display of wealth, and I thought, gee, is that to say that anyone in today's China can live like an Emperor? And then, suffer all the consequences of greed and backstabbing-mania, with chrysanthemum as silent (and trampled) witness, and happy Jay music to cheer us up in the midst of all this bleakness. If Zhang Yimou meant it as a critique of today's capitalistic chacun-pour-soi China, then, bravo, you are a master indeed!