The Emperor's Club (2002)



Critic Consensus: Though Kline is excellent in his portrayal of Hundert, the movie is too dull and sentimental to distinguish itself from other titles in its genre.

Movie Info

A dedicated teacher learns some important lessons about himself years after he retired from the classroom in this drama. William Hundert (Kevin Kline) is an instructor at St. Benedict's School for Boys, an exclusive private academy on the East Coast where Hundert drills his charges on the moral lessons to be learned through the study of Greek and Roman philosophers. Hundert is fond of telling his students, "A man's character is his fate," and he strives to impress upon them the importance of the … More

Rating: PG-13 (for some sexual content)
Genre: Drama
Directed By:
Written By: Neil Tolkin
In Theaters:
On DVD: May 6, 2003
Box Office: $14.0M
Universal Pictures - Official Site



as William Hundert

as Sedgewick Bell

as Elizabeth

as James Ellerby

as Martin Blythe

as Headmaster Woodbridg...

as Louis Masoudi

as Sen. Bell

as Deepak Mehta

as Robert Brewster

as Eugene Field

as Copeland Gray

as Russell Hall

as Mr. Harris

as Older Martin Blythe

as Older Louis Masoudi

as Older Sedgewick Bell

as Blonde Girl

as Brunette

as Real Redhead

as Mrs. Woodbridge

as Deepak's Mom

as Senator Bell's Wife

as Miss Peters

as Mr. Castle

as Miss Johnston

as Well Wisher/Good Luc...

as Third Form Boy

as Other Student

as Older Deepak Mehta

as Robert Bell

as Victoria Bell

as Anna Mehta

as Dr. Kelly Ryan

as Older Robert Brewste...

as Older Copeland Gray

as Older Eugene Field

as Older Deibel

as Maitre d'

as Sound Board Mixer

as Martin Blythe, the ...

as George Duncan

as Kathryn Scott

as Tawana Carver

as Steven Wong

as Alec Matthews

as Howard Hollander
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for The Emperor's Club

All Critics (142) | Top Critics (35)

A soulless rehashing of Dead Poet's Society is hardly the savior of American education

Full Review… | May 31, 2012
Old School Reviews

Some mature content, but fine for many teens.

Full Review… | December 28, 2010
Common Sense Media

Prep school professor tries to mold his students into upstanding young men, in particular one problem student. Ho-hum.

Full Review… | January 29, 2009

While it does trumpet good virtues and offer good lessons, it does so without grit, passion, or originality.

December 6, 2004
Looking Closer

...allows Kline to play the sort of cocksure character he specializes in.

Full Review… | August 1, 2003
Reel Film Reviews

William Hundert (Kevin Kline) isn't charismatic or cool… I like that about him. He isn't selling his own personality, authenticity, or commitment; he isn't selling education as self-actualization (Dead Poets Society)…

Full Review… | August 1, 2003
Decent Films Guide

Audience Reviews for The Emperor's Club

A film you swear you've seen before a hundred times, that is saved by a wonderful performance by Kevin Kline.
This whistful looks into the world of academia is beyond cliche, from the oopsy moment of Professor Kline playing baseball with his students (and predicably smashes a deep fly ball that careens into the headmaster's car window - gee, where have I seen that before.... in just about every film of this genre).

Still, there is enough witty dialog and a certain moral question that makes me give this film a watchable rating (if you've got nothing better to do on a weeknight).

The main dramatic point of the film is a competition held each year called Mr. Julius Caesar, wherein Kline, the professor, gives the topic for a series of essays on Greco/Roman history. Kline then grades the essays, and comes up with a composite score. The top three then have a head to head competition in front of the rest of the school, taking turns answering increasingly difficult questions.
The moral question comes as Kline has befriended the son of a Senator, and is pleased that he has finally reached the difficult student - to the point where he judges with his heart and allows the boy into the top three (where of course he attempts to cheat).

I found this entire exercise to be distastful, but I've always found that making judgements on subjective writing to be thus. When the film later tries to make amends for Kline's lack of fairness, it just adds to the mediocracy; after all, he is supposed to be the hero, that pilar of moral judgement who is so loved by his former students. The points are made, driven in with a sledgehammer and the sentimentality so saccarin that my teeth hurt - derailing some of the more subtle points concerning honor.

This film is certainly no "Good Will Hunting", "The Great Debators" or even the cheeky "History Boys" - it's certainly not original, and really hasn't much new or important to say, even though at times it says it quite well. For that, you can forgive some of its transparancies and transgressions, like the weak attempt at a love interest for Kline - which was totally superflous and unneccessary.

In conclusion, one of the film's messages is that victory without morality, or contribution to society, is hollow and not what will be remembered over time - just as this film will fade away and be forgotten.

paul sandberg

Super Reviewer



William Hundert, St. Benedict's assistant headmaster, practices what he teaches. Striving to inspire his students to live rightly, he's the kind of impassioned Classics professor who believes the history of the Greeks and Romans is more than just a lesson about the past. He also believes the role of a teacher is not only to educate the pupil but to mold his character. But in the fall of 1972, Hundert finds his cloistered world of tradition and influence upended with the arrival of new freshmen Sedgewick Bell, the son of a West Virginia senator. Almost immediately, teacher and student become embroiled in a turbulent battle of wills with repercussions that would still be felt a quarter of a century later.

Kevin Kline is amazing in this movie just like he is in all his roles. Had some good other actors that I like in this movie as well like Emile Hirsch, Jesse Eisenberg, Paul Dano, Patrick Dempsey, and others. Had the feel of Dead Poets Society, but definitely two very different films. The resemblance is the all boys school, and the brilliant teacher. But besides that, two different tales. One is more of the story of a teacher and the other of its students. I do prefer Dead Poets Society over this one though. Probably because I have been a student and never a teacher. Kevin Kline was great, but so was Emile Hirsch. He is one of today's greatest young actor's in my opinion. Love his work. Had quite a few of young good talents in this movie including the elder ones that made this movie so great. Thought the ending was surprising. Probably not a movie for all. Some will probably find it a bit boring. It was in some parts. But the acting is what pulls this movie through. Worth the watch for the performances if nothing else.


Super Reviewer


A magnificent movie. Funny and inspirational. Riveting and powerful. Kevin Kline is brilliant. Rich in character and tremdous in story.

Al S

Super Reviewer

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