Starring: Chow Yun Fat, Gong Li, Jay Chou
Directed by Zhang Yimou
Written by Zhang Yimou, Wu Nan, Bian Zhihong
Studio: Sony Pictures Classics
Video: 2.35:1 Enhanced for 16:9 Widescreen, 1080p HD
Audio: Chinese PCM 5.1 Uncompressed, Chinese or English DD 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, English, French
Extras: Secrets Within: Making-of Featurette, Los Angeles Premiere
Length: 114 minutes
We reviewed the standard DVD of this back in March, so my comments in this space will be strictly regarding the improvements realized with the Blu-ray version. Curse of the Golden Flower is another of those features which truly benefits from the hi-def image and hi-res audio. The film is a visually amazing, with seemingly thousands of extras in lavish costumes and city-sized sets. In the extras Gong Li mentions how foreign visitors involved in the film industry thought they were crazy for building nearly the entire Forbidden City. The extras section on the warriors’ costumes is subtitled Heavy Metal, because the ornate outfits were like the real thing. Even Gong Li’s crown weighed 60 lbs.
The Later Tang Dynasty was known for its excessive opulence at the court, and not only the costumes but all the decor reflects this, with gold being the predominant color, and its close shade: the yellow of the thousands of chrysanthemums blanketing the inner courtyard of the Forbidden City during the Chrysanthemum Festival celebration, when things come to a violent head in the complicated royal family politics of Emperor Ping. When watching the standard DVD I appreciated the lavish sets, golden armor, and multiple sounds occurring all around in the compressed 5.1 surround track. But viewing the Blu-ray version I became aware for the first time of the chrysanthemum designs on the robes of the Empress and her followers, and the fact that the columns aligning the long corridors of the palace gleamed so brightly because they had lights inside them. Plus the battle sounds were so much more precise and spatial that they added immensely to the realism of the clanking of swords, throwing of spears, and even the very low rumblings of the hundreds of opposing warriors advancing against one another.
– John Sunier