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宋宮秘史 (1965)
Inside the Forbidden City

Reviewed by: ororama
Date: 03/06/2013

Magistrate Bao is called upon to render justice for an old wrong in the imperial court in Inside the Forbidden City. The story is presented as a Huangmei opera, although the movie does not have too many songs, and the subject matter of the songs does not always seem well suited to the form. The court intrigues among the Emperor's concubines as they seek to advance by bearing his son promise sordid pleasures, but the story loses force after the conspiracy between the corrupt eunuch and the wicked concubine succeeds. It picks up again as Magistrate Bao conceives and executes an ingenious plan to secure the confessions of his powerful targets. Although the identities of the guilty parties are known, the means by which they are brought to justice surprises, and the final result seems far from a foregone conclusion in the corrupt world of the court.

Li Ching shines in a small but crucial part as a performer who plays a key role in eliciting a confession. The interrogation scenes are well staged by director Gao Lap.

Inside the Forbidden City seems a rather unusual choice for a Huangmei opera, since it lacks the romantic passion that works best in this genre, but it works as an unusual detective story.

Reviewed by: barrst
Date: 09/13/2007
Summary: Huangmei Opera

A fairly enjoyable opera scripted by Chang Cheh. Unlike other films in this genre, the singing is less frequent and usually faster paced.

Two concubines are vying to become the empress by being the first to produce a male heir. Li Zheng Fei does, but is tricked out of her due by the other concubine, Liu, who dispatches a maid with the heir to drown it in the river. The maid and fate intervene and the heir is spirited away to safety. Complications ensue and the heir becomes the emperor after all, but is in the thrall of Liu, with Li Zheng Fei leading a sorry existence far from the palace. Judge Bao and retinue enter the scene and attempt to right decade-old wrongs in a very cinematic manner.

If you've not seen a Huangmei Opera, this is a pretty painless place to start.

Reviewer Score: 7