I have always been a fan of Asian cinema ever since I was born obviously as any one who has read my stuff before will tell you. As I have collected film after film and anime after anime [I hunt down the live action while my girl hunts down all anime] I'd like to think I have a pretty good collection. That is why when the Weinstein Brothers created the Dragon Dynasty company to introduce more of these films to an American audience. Here we have the very beautiful "Legend of the Black Scorpion" or "The Banquet" in its entire glorious splendor, it really is a wonderfully shot film.
This film is a take on Shakespeare's "Hamlet" and tries to tell that story in a new way, on some levels it works and on others it fails. Directed by Xiaogang Feng this film is very amazing as far as style and cinematography but the storytelling lacks a little, underdeveloped characters hamper the film a bit. Still there is a lot good with this film and is worthy of your time but be prepared as it does move a bit slow. But it is based on a really well known and famous play so it has elements that will be appealing to the average viewer.
Empress Wan (Ziyi Zhang) has lost her husband and is now being put into a relationship with her brother in law Emperor Li (You Ge) as he wants the power of the kingdom. The thing is she has a thing for her step son Prince Wu Luan (Daniel Wu), and this is not lost on Emperor Li. He hires some assassins to kill the prince so that there will be no competition to the throne. But they fail to do so and the prince makes his way back to the kingdom. Upon arriving it is announced by the Emperor that there will be a banquet and it is in this a plan is devised to end the Emperor.
The film starts very strong and is at its most enjoyable throughout the first half of the film, but it starts to lack and can't keep the pace going. Also like I said before the film is beautiful and just amazingly shot, to be honest it really is a spectacle for the eyes more often than not. The astonishing and breathtaking cinematography mixed with wonderful scenery and sets make this a wonder to the retina. Add in the wonderful atmosphere and great slow motion fight scenes this is a good film.
But that does not mean it is a perfect movie, in fact one of its positives is also a negative. The slow motion fight sequences tend to be over used a bit here, it is better than it is bad but it is still an issue. Still the biggest flaw of the film is the lack of character development, for such a beautiful film there is a lack of emotion from the characters that can not be over looked. Ziyi Zhang does a good job here as does everyone really but the script did not add enough depth to the characters. To be honest this really did have a good chance at being a classic, any film that has Yuen Woo-Ping, Tim Yip, Li Zhang, and Xiaogang Feng behind the scenes had that potential.
The film does not reach that classic status but is very much worth a look if you have never seen it. The original release of course is great but for any American fan that may be interested may want to pick up the Dragon Dynasty release. It is comes with some great special features in a 2 disc collection including a great commentary track with Bey Logan. Of course the behind the scenes and all that stuff is featured as well, so I do recommend getting this film.
"Legend of the Black Scorpion" or "The Banquet" is a take on Shakespeare's "Hamlet", and is visually amazing, beautiful, and jumps off the screen. While the character development lacks it is still a breathtaking film
LEGEND OF THE BLACK SCORPION (a.k.a. The BANQUET) is the Chinese rendition of Shakespeare's "Hamlet". Directed by Mainland China's own acclaimed director Feng Xiaogang, joined with the lush cinematography by Tim Yip (Croaching Tiger Hidden Dragon) and the action choreography by Yuen Woo-Ping( Fearless); the film is set to bring Chinese Wuxia epic to new heights. Feng even acquired the services of one of China's most renowned international actresses; … more
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