Orders from Forbidden City (1987)
Reviewed by: STSH on 2001-05-29
Summary: Colourful and spectacular historical
The near-impenetrable plot wanders all over the place, even more so than the main characters (of whom there are many !). Perhaps about half of the story is interesting and involving while the remainder tempts the use of the fast-forward button.

This film's good points are it's visuals and, to a lesser extent, the acting. There were no fewer than four costume designers and four makeup artists, and these crew would have been flat out. The range of colourful costumes is simply staggering. And there are some glorious locations, covering deserts, steep mountains and passes, and snow everywhere. In one sequence, the characters go from burning desert to freezing snow in the space of two days. Chow Lee Ging plays Master Wenhui with utter seriousness, but some of the more doubtful characters are more lively, particularly Chu Yuen Huen as Selan and Siu Siu Ming as the wild Wang Biao.

There are a few short action scenes, but they occur in a quite different manner than in your typical HK film. The action happens and finishes suddenly, and are thus more like a Japanese sword epic. Quite well done though.

The message that peace is possible and war does not necessarily have to lead to loads of people getting killed is hammered home solidly.

Overall, not bad, and there's some pleasant background music too. And, an added bonus, the end credits are huge, clear and easy to read, and the top 18 actors are listed against the parts they played.

Reviewer Score: 7