Curse of the Golden Flower was atrocious. Horribly bad, sadly. I was pumped to see this movie, so much so that I went on opening night in NYC. Halim (my film major friend) and I were rude. Rude enough that we were laughing after the midpoint of the movie when we clearly knew it was hurtling towards earth at a blazing speed with no idea what it was doing at all and ready to bomb beyond belief. I am also rarely stoned in theaters. I wish I was stoned in order to watch this movie because the popcorn, soda, and the oh so delicious hot dog (which I have never until this moment had in a movie theater) was not enough to keep me entertained.
Zhang Yimou's movies are usually visually and emotionally breathtaking. This was breathtaking but in the sort where you feel like you just witnessed a death. He has a tendency to move large masses of people around in some ballerina-like way, which is usually beautiful but this time fell dramatically short. Or at least it didn’t hold your attention. The special effects, unlike that of House of Flying Daggers (which I own by the way) and Hero, seemed tired and repetitive. Halfway through the movie, near the point when you just can’t stand the announcing of the hour of the day any longer, there is a scene where totally fresh, jacked, vicious Ninja’s attack a house. It was by far the best part of the movie.
I believe the director was influenced by Hollywood a little too much. Though Hollywood movies usually give you an ending gratifying enough to have spent two hours watching the film.
Interested in seeing another highly rated foreign film? See Volver, Apocalypto, or Days of Glory. Days of Glory is the French Algerian movie about WWII and the Algerian and French settled African states fighting in the name of the Republic. It is depressing, dreary, and spectacular. It follows a group of soldiers who move up from Africa through Italy to France where it ends in a wintery battle scene. Cunard won a Best Actor award in the Cannes film festival. It has a serious and very strong political argument.