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Visually thrilling and rich with emotion, Raise the Red Lantern offers an engrossing period drama anchored by an outstanding performance from Gong Li. Read critic reviews

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Movie Info

Teenage Songlian (Gong Li), whose family has been devastated by the recent death of her father, becomes the third concubine of wealthy Master Chen (Ma Jingwu). She soon discovers that behind the palatial luxury of life in the master's house, she and her fellow concubines, Zhuoyan (Cao Cuifeng) and Meishan (He Caifei), are pitted against each other in a struggle for his affections. The situation inevitably leads to deception, jealous rages and the revelation of each other's darkest secrets.

Cast & Crew

Gong Li
Songlian
Ma Jingwu
The Master
He Caifei
Meishan (Third Wife)
Cao Cuifeng
Zhuoyan (Second Wife)
Ding Weimin
Songlian's mother
Su Tong
Writer (Novel)
Hsiao-hsien Hou
Executive Producer
Wenze Zhang
Executive Producer
Naoki Tachikawa
Original Music
Jiping Zhao
Original Music
Zhao Fei
Cinematographer
Lun Yang
Cinematographer
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News & Interviews for Raise the Red Lantern

Critic Reviews for Raise the Red Lantern

All Critics (26) | Top Critics (10) | Fresh (25) | Rotten (1)

  • Visually ravishing and emotionally cold, Zhang's third feature is one long series of pushes and pulls.

    February 27, 2007
  • A beautifully crafted and richly detailed feat of consciousness-raising and a serious drama with the verve of a good soap opera.

    May 20, 2003 | Rating: 4.5/5
  • Gong Li delivers a performance of exquisite expressiveness that, like the film itself, is unnerving in its emotional nakedness.

    May 12, 2001
  • The story never amounts to much more than a rather tepid Chinese rendition of The Women.

    January 1, 2000 | Full Review…
  • A Chinese film of voluptuous physical beauty and angry passions.

    January 1, 2000 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…
  • A defining example of Chinese movie-making and one of the best films of the '90s.

    January 1, 2000 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Raise the Red Lantern

  • Feb 23, 2016
    A film of sheer formal beauty, with a gorgeous cinematography and a gripping allegoric story about the subjection of women in a patriarchal society, but it is infuriating how it collapses in its last forty minutes, turning into a melodramatic soap opera with a terrible ending.
    Carlos M Super Reviewer
  • Jul 04, 2012
    I guess this is where it all took off for Zhang Yimou and what a take off this was. This is visually stunning and with a genuine heart felt storyline.
    John B Super Reviewer
  • May 17, 2012
    A fantastic film about expectations and societal roles. Director Zhang Yimou exhaustively captures the pomp and circumstance of every tradition, beautifully juxtaposing this grandeur with the desperate plight of the concubines. He shows that under all the bizarre foot massages and the ceremonial lighting of the lanterns, there is a group woman eagerly laying in wait for the master to come and bestow upon them his light. Confined to grounds of this temple, or what seems like a very small prison, he captures both the elegance and the crippling confinement that these women call home. Even in this isolated & relatively small space, Yimou makes the stakes feel so high. For me it was an unexpected delight and a film I will not soon forget.
    Reid V Super Reviewer
  • Nov 25, 2011
    Does the accurate historical date matters? Seventy years later, Yimou's masterpiece of polygamy and competition was banned seemingly with the purpose of overshadowing the chauvinist image of a monstrous regime. Spectacularly shot, the movie gives a clear message, strong to accept yet compatible with the heart, as simple as it may be. 97/100
    Edgar C Super Reviewer

Raise the Red Lantern (Da hong deng long gao gao gua) Quotes

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