In a kingdom ruled by a young and unpredictable king, the military commander has a secret weapon: a "shadow", a look-alike who can fool both his enemies and the King himself. Now he must use this weapon in an intricate plan that will lead his people to victory in a war that the King does not want.
I firmly believe that this film was simply trying too hard to be a 'Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon' type of show.
It failed miserably!
We watched an hour of this and finally gave up as the action was poorly directed and the actors themselves were struggling!
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A 1-star film with a 5-star set-piece
- Shadow review by Alphaville
This Zhang Yimou epic is a curious hybrid of the bad and the beautiful. For the first hour it’s such a hammy melodrama that you wonder why no-one’s had a word with him. It’s beautiful to look at, if course. He’s a master of composition and movement. But the palace-intrigue plot is uninteresting and there’s nothing to look at but interiors with talking heads. It’s filmed in striking monochrome with odd flashes of muted colour, such as flesh tones, but this can’t sustain interest on its own.
But fast forward to 63 minutes and you reach a dynamic battle sequence set in a walled city on the edge of a deep gorge. The main weapons of choice are umbrellas made of sharp blades. There are some jaw-dropping scenes here that are like nothing you’ve ever seen before, even in a Kurasawa film. It even reminds you of Kurasawa’s Seven Samurai because the whole battle is filmed in torrential rain. It’s a spectacular cinematic vision. If only the remainder of the film could match this it would be a masterpiece, but after the battle it’s back to interior melodrama. If you have any interest in film at all, however, it’s worth watching for that central 20min sequence.