Ye yan (Legend of the Black Scorpion) (The Banquet) Reviews

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Super Reviewer
July 21, 2007
The crown prince of a 10th century Chinese kingdom is summoned back to court when his father is assassinated and usurped by his uncle. Yet another Crouching Tiger wannabe starring the ubiquitous Zhang Ziyi, The Banquet is in fact a loose adaptation of Hamlet. I must admit to fearing the worst for the opening half of this film as it seemed to contain many of the same mistakes the very similar Curse Of The Golden Flower made in that it seemed to concentrate far more on overblown and superfluous set pieces and elaborate costumes than its plot and characters. Fortunately once the prince reaches the palace the story gets a kick start and the schemes and machinations of the various factions make for a much more interesting watch. It was nice to see Zhang Ziyi in a meatier role than the innocent porcelain doll she always seems to play and the supporting cast bring presence to their roles although it is often difficult to connect with any of them on an emotional level. It looks glorious, which is pretty much par for the course for this kind of thing and despite some pacing issues with the first half is a pretty decent stab at Oriental Shakespearian tragedy. Much better than the aforementioned Golden Flower, but obviously not in the same league as Kurosawa's forays into Bard territory.
Super Reviewer
June 11, 2009
Xiaogang Feng creates a loose adaptation of William Shakespeare's Hamlet known as The Banquet.The story involves deceit, betrayal, and all the other good stuff in the royal court. It does have a play-like feel to it with a run time of 2 hours and 10 minutes and a pace that is quite slow. Yes, the film does drag at times, however the cinematography, costuming, settings, and acting save this film from total boredom. Besides, the final 30 minutes, which is the banquet scene, is highly intriguing. Hence, The Banquet.The action is minimal, and like mostly everything else in this film, very dramatic. Most of the shots are in slow motion and the orchestra type music tones down the bloody encounters. One of the sequences is more of a dance than a fight too. The martial arts choreography is there and it is a shame that a good portion of it isn't seen in real time speed.The acting is good, albeit seemingly unemotional at times. Zhang Ziyi keeps the viewer at bay as she keeps switching sides with her actions. Daniel Wu, Zhou Xun, and Ge You round out the rest of the major cast.The Banquet is not the most entertaining of films, as it is mostly for people that enjoy theatrical arts. It is worth a check out if time allows.
Super Reviewer
March 30, 2008
Outstanding Movie, A Romeo & Jullet / Hamlet Story in Asian Theme, love the way people just float thur the air when fighting, much better then the ole school Kung Fu Movies (trash Can Lids). Rent or Buy you will not be sorry.
Super Reviewer
½ October 31, 2007
This movie is one hell of a masterpiece! Anyone who has a passion for theater arts would surely love this!
Note: Get a copy with proper subtitles!!
Super Reviewer
½ July 20, 2007
Very pretty...very indulgent...very whatever...
Super Reviewer
April 3, 2007
You can't have everything you wish because you will loose everything if you keep forcing it!
Super Reviewer
½ October 30, 2008
If you enjoyed movies like:"Curse of the Golden Flower", "Crouching Tiger : Hidden Dragon", you will be ready for this tale based upon the Japanese version of a Shakespearean type of tale. See this for the cinematography as well as the choreography, both were surreal!
Super Reviewer
½ February 8, 2009
What a dramatic story! Very beautiful and choreographed movie. I loved the action sequences and stunning scenery. A love story with a tragic ending, it will captivate you. :) Awesome movie.
Super Reviewer
½ July 5, 2008
No kung-fu fighting this time from Ziyi Zhang. But theirs still plenty of action and some beautiful cinematography.
Super Reviewer
December 16, 2007
An intriguing movie. Zhang Ziyi's most impressive performance ever.
A must-see!
Super Reviewer
½ April 30, 2008
"Qing. Wuluan. It is I. I knew it when I sang the first line. Qing. Your Highness. Are you still alone? With you I am never alone."
Brilliant fight scenes by the master Woo-ping Yuen. Fantastic photography, great set designs and a great cast with Ziyi Zhang (Empress Wan), Prince Wuluan (Daniel Wu) and Xun Zhou (Qing Nu) among others. Great score by Tan Dun. A powerful and bloody epic drama, Hamlet chinese style.
½ November 17, 2010
This movie is kind of a mess, and that makes me surprised that they picked this as their Oscar submission for their country. It is Shakespearean in its influence, but it probably could have been better if they strayed further from any source of drawn out relations and made it a more twisted novella.

Then, it masquerades as a martial arts movie where the fighting is very much choreographed dancing. The excitement of the combat is dead because you are watching it for its grace and synchronicity than raw emotion. Even the angles they take to film the fights really sacrifice this for the movements than meaning of the battle.

What is good is that it has beautiful use of color and sets. And the wirework is great. And that's about it.
November 25, 2008
Daniel Wu looks so pretty with long hair, he plays the Prince Wu Luan. Wu Luan went into solitude with acting and music after his father took little Wan for himself, that pervert! But when His Uncle killed his father and married Wan himself, she sent her warriors to bring him home unknowingly that even the Emperor's assassins are out to kill prince Wu Luan. This film is full of passion and betrayal and revenge. Beautiful scenery and colors, costumes, armors and hair dressing. It's a personal favorite!
June 19, 2008
The movie is very visually stunning and had great martial arts sequences, however like most of the artsy ancient chinese films they often leave something to be desired in the character development and plot aspects. The banquet is no different, the film moves slow yet doesn't allow much time to let any of the characters evolve much beyond what they were at the start. The adaptation of Hamlet was a good idea though it could have been better. Started out and ending strong though the middle was where the film was brought down. Worth the watch to feast your eyes on some beautiful swordplay and costume design, but if you are looking for an in depth drama perhaps it's better to look elsewhere.
June 13, 2008
I found this Chinese Hamlet a bit flat it was interesting to see how the story translated into another culture but I felt compromises were made to stay true to Shakespeare that ultimately made it feel less entertaining. Some of the characters felt awkward and foreign. Shakespeare is not the bible and more liberties could have been taken to make this story more genuine. The cinematography was gorgeous but also monotonous I think some risks could have been taken and would have put this over the top. Some terrific scenes and great performances make it a rent for genre fans.
½ March 22, 2008
Definitely "turns convention on its head." Loved it. It is a wonderful rendition of a classic tragedy.
½ October 17, 2007
A true surprise from Feng Xiaogang. Although the storyline is very much like Hamlet, I enjoyed every minute of this film. Great cinematography too!

Spoiler alert:
Memorable scenes:
- The dance/fight between Empress Mother (Ziyi) and Crown Price (Wu) with the Maiden Sword.

- The final scene when Empress (Ziyi) got assassinated and then the theme song plays ("Only For Love" by Jane Zhang - What a BEAUTIFUL song) and finally the credit rolls.
April 8, 2007
it was a good movie staring Zhang Ziyi, this one has a Shakespearean ending. i loved the cinimatics the choreography most of all the plot.
March 5, 2007
The ending is really up for discussion, I'm not sure if I like this film or not. I think I like it enough because of cinematography and the stage acting, but it might not even warrant a second viewing. Just boggles my mind, the ending. It's almost a fad to have open endings now, why can't we just have a concrete finish?
½ November 9, 2013
A silly melodrama with gorgeous imagery and stylishly choreographed fight scenes.
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