It was bound to happen. After enjoying each Yimouís film, one after the other, one was bound to leave me a little cold. Despite all the richness of the art direction and some powerful performances, Curse of the Golden Flower is a little bland.
While still a good movie with some moments that actually reach ďgreat,Ē Curse of the Golden Flower lacks the really great story that his other films have had. It also lacks an emotional punch which is odd as the story is tied up all in emotions. There is little action and the focus is more on relationships.
Where there is action, the film succeeds. Often you are ambushed by it. The movie will be moving quietly along and all the sudden someone will jump out of somewhere and Bam! The energy Yimou creates in his action sequences is high but he is unable to sustain it through the dramatic bits. This is quite the opposite of his recent films Hero and House of Flying Daggers, both of which are riddled with beautifully choreographed action sequences which blend seamlessly in the movie and serve to augment the emotional sequences between. Curse of the Golden Flower feels a bit jarring as it goes back and forth.
Curse of the Golden Flower is a very Shakespearean tale of a royal family plotting against each other. Itís shot in a majestic set that is breathtaking to watch. Yimou loves colour. Hero was all monochromatic primaries. Daggers was natural greens, whites and browns. Flower is royal Golds and Reds. Itís a feast for the eye. But itís all most like heís made the visual the main thing instead of being the background where it belongs.
Still, Curse of the Golden Flower isnít a bad film. Itís the kind of film to see on the big screen if you do see it so that you can take in all his pageantry. However, renting his previous films would certainly be more satisfying.