Now onto one of my favourite martial arts film and probably an all rounder for me in terms of foreign, Curse of the Golden Flower.
Shame on anyone who judges this to be a typical martial arts film at a glance. One of the best things about this film is that it has barely any martial arts fighting in at all in comparison to other releases, such as Crouching Tiger, House of Flying Daggers, The Banquet or Three Kingdoms, which use any excuse of daily life to start a fight.
COTGF is an enthralling family based drama based within the royal family and how their relationships stem from the slightest decision. One of the best things about the film was its use of the “snowball effect” within the narrative, wherein one small decision has repurcussions later on. Also, the use of repetition does not get boring and ties in very well with character development.
However, the eye widener for me in this film was its cinematography. Truly one of the best sets I have ever seen was the palace throne room. The extraordinary use of colour, props and contrasts with the royal family’s costume made it a wonder to behold. The finale especially could not have started in a better place.
A couple of points worth mentioning, this film holds two records in chinese film history as far as I’m aware (though feel free to correct if I’m wrong). The largest set built for a Chinese film, which is the palace. Again this is a marvel of the big screen when the empty palace grounds are adorned with the golden chrysanthemums from the title. And also holds the record for the most stuntmen in Chinese history, though I’m sure that can be argued when looking at other recent titles. A brief mention for the martial arts here, as one of the first viewings of the fights is held in the palace corridor, and as a nice change, isn’t full of stuntmen doing the same thing. A good one on one fight between one of the royal family and a character I couldn’t possibly reveal =P
Overall, this is like a Chinese soap opera with character you genuinely care for, but instead of having an east end skin head beating up someone with a lead pipe, theres a Chinese prince wire-working his way up the palace walls with a giant spear. Not one for someone expecting to see a flood of fighting.