秦頌
The Emperor's Shadow (1996)


Reviewed by: magic-8
Date: 06/08/2000
Summary: An Outstanding Film

"The Emperor's Shadow" is an exceptional movie by Chow Hiu Man with an equally adept script by Lui Wai. The film shows what hubris can do to people in high places, where pride goeth before the fall (to paraphrase an old saying). China's first emperor, played by Jiang Wen, is trying to build a kingdom by defeating all others to unify, united under his rule. He feels a national anthem is necessary to bring the people around to the idea of one ruler, one nation. To carry out this plan, he defeats and then recruits Ge You to compose the anthem. The two share a moment together as children--a bond that they later rekindle as adults.

What develops is the intriguing part of the film. We see the emperor steadfast in his belief that he is the one to bring order. Killing to control people is a tool he uses with great abandon. He doesn't think twice when exercising his authority. His "shadow," Ge You, is wholeheartedly against him on all fronts, fearing and loathing his subjugation.

The dialogue is sharp and to the point. The actors are uniformly excellent. The film has a very modern feel to it even though depicting an age far removed from today. What makes this film so compelling is its portrayal of people with idiosyncracies, mood swings, self absorption, stubbornness. Basicsally, presenting people with their faults. And it is through their faults that they define themselves. A major point that is presented in the film is how blind, to things and surroundings, a person may become when trying to attain one's goal, no matter what that might be.

Reviewer Score: 9