Like many Chinese period pieces, this one was rich in texture, cinematography, visually captivating, but left me scratching my head as to exactly what happened and why. Based on an internal family struggle for power (historical?? kinda doubt it), it is very slow to begin and develop, but the final "battle" is overwhelming and full of twists. Overall, however, I found "House of Flying Daggers" far superior and much more entertaining.
posted by redterrier (LOS ANGELES, CA) Sep 8, 2007
Member since Aug 2006
If you simplify it, modern Chinese action epics fall into one of 3 categories: action movies disguised as romances, romances disguised as action movies, and soap operas that never end and leave as many plot lines dangling as possible. Luckily, "Curse" is an action movie disguised as a disturbing romance. Beware, SPOILER AHEAD What makes "Curse" a pretty good movie is also what the makes it feel disguised: the well choreographed and often massive fight sequences happen sporadically, almost haphazardly, with practically nothing happening til the middle of the movie. Sandwiching the awesome butt-kicking is a rather foreboding sense of doom that builds steadily from the start. There's a not-so-well hidden incestuous relationship with Gong Li and her step-son driving most of the problems in the movie; vengeful king Chow Yun Fat knows about it, as does apparently everyone else in the kingdom. In order to rectify that situation, he is slowly poisoning Gong, who looks slightly crazier since her last American hit, Miami Vice. In a case of the old double-cross, Gong realizes her "medicine" is poisoning her, and organizes a coup, with ridiculously-mustached son/pop star Jay Chou leading the rebellion. Anyway, the coup is put down by a nutso Chow Yun Fat, who is about as menacing as anything in China right now. Without spoiling a twist and the dramatic/depressing ending, the story definitely takes a backseat to the action and cinematography, which are both ASTOUNDING. Ever since Crouching Tiger, U.S. audiences have been privy to some of the most awe-inspiring cinematography of Chinese cinema on a regular basis. Thankfully, "Curse" won't disappoint. Long, sweeping camera moves are accented by a rich, colorful world with intensely acrobatic combatants. Lots of ninjas only make things more awesome, as they always do. Despite the distracting corsets of the ladies in the movie (did they really dress that way?) the action will impress, making this a worthy rental.