The Emperor and the Assassin

"Excellent"

The Emperor and the Assassin Review


The Emperor and the Assassin sets a new standard for quality of production. The story, costumes, sets, music, and performances all have such a powerful authenticity that after watching it, I felt like I had just lived through a two-thousand year old episode of Chinese history. Director Chen Kaige's (Yellow Earth, Temptress Moon) film lives up to its billing and is a worthwhile success (not to mention the most expensive Asian film ever produced).

Set in third century B.C., The Emperor and the Assassin is the story of Ying Zheng (Li Xuejian), leader of the Kingdom of Qin, whose goal is to conquer the six other kingdoms of China and merge them into one unified land. To accomplish this objective, he embarks upon a horrific reign of terror and brutality against all who stand between him and his destiny.

In an attempt to aid Zheng's conquering of China, Lady Zhao, (Gong Li) his lover since childhood, devises an intricate fake assassination plot against him, which, when "uncovered," will provide him with a legitimate excuse to invade the neighboring kingdom of Yan, his greatest obstacle to unification. When Zheng betrays her trust and invades her homeland of Zhao killing thousands including innocent children, she turns against him. As part of the original scheme to be in exile in the kingdom of Yan, she encounters Jing Ke (Zhang Fengyi), a great warrior and former assassin. They fall madly in love and she attempts to convince him, along with The Prince of Yan, to kill the King of Qin before he becomes Emperor and continues his tyranny.

The story is a bit confusing because so much is lost in the translation from Mandarin, but pay close attention, and you'll be able to follow along. What I found most enjoyable about the film was its character portrayals within the context of a historical deconstruction. From the assassin, Jing Ke, to the power-hungry Ying Zheng, the emotions and reactions are surprisingly humanistic, and I could easily relate, even though the plot takes place two thousand years ago, and is part of a civilization totally different than our own. For example, Jing Ke is an assassin who is able to recognize the wrong in killing through the power of love and rises against King Zheng. Also, Lady Zhao is a woman who, in her naiveté, believed that a benevolent leadership under a united emperor would stop the bloodshed that the people of China had faced for hundreds of years. These endearing characters, most of which are fictional, blend in perfectly with the historical setting and add the much-needed element of passion into the dramatic mix of the story.

The Emperor and the Assassin is not to be missed. It breaks from the typical American mold with its slow developing plot and strenuous length (over two and a half hours), but captures the quality of the finest homegrown products reminiscent of Braveheart or Dances With Wolves. Indulge yourself in an in this epic rendition of a tumultuous episode of ancient Chinese history.

Aka Jing ke ci qin wang.

Gong kills.



The Emperor and the Assassin

Facts and Figures

Run time: 162 mins

In Theaters: Saturday 14th November 1998

Distributed by: Sony Pictures Classics

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 81%
Fresh: 29 Rotten: 7

IMDB: 7.3 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Lady Zhao, as Jing Ke, as Dan, Prince of Yan, as General Fan Yuqi, Wang Zhi-Wen as Marquis Changxin, as Lu Buwei, as Queen Mother, Zhao Benshan as Gao Jianli, as Qin Wuyang, Pan Chang-Jiang as Prison Official, as Blind Girl, as Ying Zheng

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Hidden Figures Movie Review

Hidden Figures Movie Review

This film recounts such a great true story that we don't mind the fact that...

The Founder Movie Review

The Founder Movie Review

This is the story of Ray Kroc, the man who created the concept of McDonald's....

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

Keanu Reeves picks up his supremely efficient hitman immediately where the 2015 original left him:...

Fences Movie Review

Fences Movie Review

After winning Tony Awards on Broadway, Denzel Washington and Viola Davis reteam for a film...

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

A spin-off from 2014's awesome The Lego Movie, this raucously paced action-comedy is proof that...

The Space Between Us Movie Review

The Space Between Us Movie Review

While the premise of this movie makes it look like a sci-fi adventure, the truth...

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

On paper, the idea of a two-hour 40-minute German comedy may not seem very promising,...

Advertisement
Gold Movie Review

Gold Movie Review

Based on a true story, this lively and sometimes outrageous adventure is packed with twists...

Loving Movie Review

Loving Movie Review

While this film tackles a huge issue in the history of race relations in America,...

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

It's been 20 years since we last saw four freewheeling young junkies from Edinburgh spiral...

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Based on an astounding true story, this battlefield drama mixes warm emotion with intense action...

Sing Movie Review

Sing Movie Review

The quality of the animation in this musical comedy may not be up to Pixar...

Jackie Movie Review

Jackie Movie Review

Rather than make a standard biopic about the most famous First Lady in American history,...

Split Movie Review

Split Movie Review

After a few badly received sci-fi blockbusters, M. Night Shyamalan returned to his earthier style...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.