Wednesday, January 24, 2007

An Epic of Battles, Colours & Boing-boinging

Where does one go for an epic of bloodletting battles, gaudy colours, egos and cleavages boing-boinging around(I mean of EPIC PROPORTION!!)? Look no further than Zhang Yi Mou's latest offering in a dish salivating film called CURSE OF THE GOLDEN FLOWER.

The image poet has outdone himself in every sense of the way in this film. The question is has he gone bonkers?

Here, I understand where Zhang Yi Mou is trying to go with the wu xia genre as he is trying to push the envelope of the genre. We know that the past few years, there have been a lot of high profile wu xia films and he wants to make a film that topples over all the other films. Where Chen Kaige failed miserably with THE PROMISE, Zhang Yi Mou succeeded to a certain degree. The closest comparison of another film to CURSE OF THE BOING-BOINGING (Yes!! The Boing-boinging of the pushed up cleavages do become a distraction that it has become a curse.) is Feng Xiaogang's THE BANQUET which I think is far superior to Zhang Yi Mou's film. The biggest mistake that Chen Kaige did was trying to anticipate and please the global audience which in turned, imploded the film. THE BANQUET, on the other hand was grounded in its aesthetics from production design to the storytelling and there was a sense that the director genuinely wanted to make a good film.

Zhang Yi Mou's film is a balance of the other two films. He has created the palace to be "heaven" in every sense of the way with gold, colours, flowers and rainbow-coloured jades that create an interesting CLING CLANGING atmosphere of sound and then he juxtaposes with the "rotting souls" who live in it. Husband poisons the wife. Wife has an affair with her stepson. Stepson is having an intimate relationship with his sister that he doesn't know. Interestingly, sex is depicted as an incestuous act in the film. The father-figure emperor who tries to unite the family but in the end, destroys it with his ruthless ego. Chow Yuen Fatt held the role of the emperor quite average as he could have lessen some of the overacting eye stares. Gong Li.. well.. Gong Li. Yes, her over sized bosoms were BOING-BOINGING also and mind you... that is extremely distracting when one is trying to watch the facial expressions for performance sake. The biggest casting flaw in the film is the popular singer Jay Chou, who I thought was not able to go on par with the veteran actors. All he could do was stare aimlessly(If that is what Zhang Yi Mou wanted him to do, then he has succeeded)like a semi alive zombie.
There is the epic battle at the end that happened in the palace courtyard which I found problematic but you have to watch it to know what I am writing about. There are also the TARZAN-like ninja assassins(Yes, they seem to be able to appear from nowhere and glide through ropes with no where to plausibly hang onto).
Where THE BANQUET was a feast for the eyes, CURSE OF THE GOLDEN FLOWERS is a lavish buffet that overwhelms all senses.
At the end, it is the philosophy of the film that I like about power corrupts and the more one gets the more self destructive it can be. Please Zhang Yi Mou, go back to your smaller films like the one that was shown early this year, that is what I call the image poet...