Shadow Magic (2000)

TOMATOMETER

AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic Consensus: Charmingly sweet, Shadow Magic captures the sense of wonder of audiences experiencing the world of motion pictures for the first time.

Shadow Magic Videos

Shadow Magic Photos

Movie Info

Chinese-born, American-based director Ann Hu debuts with this epic historical drama about the introduction of motion pictures to China during the beginning of the 20th century. The film is based on a true story of Liu Jung (Xia Yu), a Peking photographer who struggles to start a film industry in China in spite of the strong anti-Western sentiment of the time. At the film's outset, Liu Jung is scolded by his autocratic boss Master Ren (Liu Peiqi) for his obsession with Western gizmos after he brings home a junked Victrola. During a photo session with China's most famous opera star, Lord Tan (Li Yusheng), Liu Jung runs into Raymond Wallace (Jared Harris), a mysterious Brit who is hell-bent on introducing movies (called "shadow magic") to the Emperor. As soon as Liu Jung sees his first frame, he is hooked on the medium and committed to Wallace's scheme. This film was screened at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival.
Rating:
PG (for brief mild language)
Genre:
Art House & International , Comedy , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
 wide
On DVD:
Runtime:
Studio:

Cast

Peiqi Liu
as Master Ren
Jared Harris
as Raymond Wallace
Yu Xia
as Liu Jinglun
Qingzhuo Fang
as Widow Jiang
Li Bin
as Empress Ci Xi
Lu Liping
as Madame Ren
Wang Jingming
as Old Liu
Liping Lu
as Madame Ren
Yufei Xing
as Ling
Li Yusheng
as Lord Tan
Mu Qi
as Jewelry Tower
Yukui Zhang
as Lao Chang
Zhongwei Zheng
as Fu Guan
Zhang Yukui
as Lao Chang
Zheng Zhongwei
as Fu Guan
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for Shadow Magic

All Critics (49) | Top Critics (19)

Why not trust the subject matter instead of shaping it all to fit a formula?

Full Review… | May 18, 2001
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

Makes us appreciate what today's audiences take for granted: the miracle of the cinema.

May 17, 2001
Dallas Morning News
Top Critic

Gives us a glimpse of what it must have been like to be mesmerized and seduced by images that still convey magic and mystery.

May 17, 2001
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

Shadow Magic isn't interested in psychology or character study. It's a series of tableaux and on that level succeeds admirably.

May 4, 2001
Boston Globe
Top Critic

There is a humane touch here missing from so many modern movies.

April 27, 2001
Miami Herald
Top Critic

It's a film about film, and Hu's love of the medium's storytelling power shines through every frame.

Full Review… | April 20, 2001
Washington Post
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Shadow Magic

The story of the introduction of film to a turn of the century China weary of and hostile to Western encroachment is framed by a tale of a young man struggling with his wonder with new technology versus a class system that insists he "know his place". Although thin in places the subject matter still charms.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

½

based on true story of film coming to China, this interesting inter-cultural film shows much about how culture affects the world.

Lisbeth West
Lisbeth West

[font=Century Gothic]In "Shadow Magic," it is Peking in 1902 where Liu(Xia Yu), the chief photographer for a prestigious photo studio, is seeking innovative ways to help, including playing a recording of western classical music during a photo shoot. His boss(Liu Peiqi) thinks he needs to settle down and arranges a marriage between Liu and the Widow Jiang(Fang Qingxhuo). Fearing a fate worse than death, Liu starts assisting Raymond Wallace(Jared Harris), an Englishman with a new invention called a movie projector.[/font] [font=Century Gothic][/font] [font=Century Gothic]Inspired by a true story, "Shadow Magic" is an interesting and overlong bit of history that is let down by a thin plot. The power of the images speak for themselves as they capture unfamiliar lands and peoples who are thousands of miles away. What the movie is concerned with is the opening of China to new ideas from the West but a hundred years later, there is too much of this, especially Hollywood films that flood the market. At the same time, there are much less Chinese films or other forms of culture flowing back the other way. [/font]

Walter M.
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

Shadow Magic Quotes

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

Discussion Forum

Discuss Shadow Magic on our Movie forum!

News & Features