Drama R Running time: 2:41
IMDB rating: 7.3 Aspect: Wide; Languages: Spanish, Mandarin; Subtitles: English, French, Spanish; Audio: DD Surr.
Chen Kaige's ambitious historical epic is more diorama than drama. The film re-creates the rise to power of Ying Zheng, the warlord who in 221 B.C. united China and became its first emperor. Chen wants to show us the violent, decisive acts that shape history, and the plot eventually sets Zheng (Li Xuejian) against his childhood lover, Lady Zhao (Gong Li, who retains her beauty even after her character's face is branded), and Jing Ke (Zhang Fengyi), the reluctant assassin she sends to kill him. The film is parcelled into five acts, and moves at a serene, stately pace-a constant reminder that we are watching History. The dialogue is appropriately remote and epigrammatic. The film's saving graces are its heady, intense battle sequences and the high level of anthropological detail that informs every scene. In Mandarin.