or Man cheng jin dai huang jin jia
Set in the Tang dynasty in the 10th Century, this film tells the tale of the Emperor Ping and his cold war with his wife, Empress Phoenix, as well as both of their attempts to influence the three princes. The eldest, Crown Prince Wan’s mother was the Emperor’s first wife, has been raised by Phoenix as well as her two sons. But the emperor is not happy with his wife. As her father is an important neighbouring king he cannot do away with her in the open and instead decides that as she is “sick” she needs to take her medicine. Medicine that he has formulated, and which includes a poison that will slowly cause damage and leave her nothing but a vegetable. Obviously she doesn’t want this to happen and so makes other plans.
Visually this film works exceptionally well. Almost every scene is gorgeous. The costume design is also fantastic, even if I really did wonder how often “cut” had to be shouted when a breast popped out of place. Running around in those outfits would not be a good idea.
And the acting was pretty good too. Yun-Fat Chow and Li Gong were great, and I also thought that Jay Chou was pretty believable. The rest did the job but didn’t stand out for me.
Despite all that praise however I really didn’t like this film. It was just plain boring. Lovely scene after lovely scene, but who really cares if the story and/or characters don’t engage. I just felt a huge sense of “and? your point being?” throughout the film. And even more so at the end.