Blood spills on an immaculate shadowy landscape in this visually stunning martial arts thriller from Chinese master Zhang Yimou.
Dir Zhang Yimou
Prod Ellen Eliasoph, Zhang Zhao, Pang Liwei, Liu Jun, Wang Xiaozhu
Scr Li Wei, Zhang Yimou
The neighbouring kingdoms of Pei and Jing have an uneasy accord, with peace maintained by Pei’s King, a self-absorbed chap who is amenable to Jing in all things. But when Pei’s Great Commander goes rogue and tries to start a war, even Pei’s King cannot stop what is unleashed in the hearts of both his soldiers and his spirited sister. It’s a battle that has been brewing for decades, and now the time has come. But who exactly is this trouble-stirring Great Commander? The answer is found in a lost chapter of Chinese history. Under constant threat of assassination many nobles secretly employed surrogate men, known as ‘shadows’, who served their masters through impersonation, risking their lives and proving their loyalty by embracing death. For his latest Wuxia spectacular, Zhang Yimou collaborates with House of Flying Daggers cinematographer Zhao Xiaoding to create a mind-blowing visual design that revolutionises the colour palette, using water, calligraphy and constant reference to the yin yang symbol. Court intrigue, assassinations and shady motivations abound, and audiences can expect jaw-dropping combat, including the introduction of a new series of ‘feminine’ moves, and an umbrella-weapon that will be the envy of every Londoner.