(aka "Curse of the Golden Flower" or "Man cheng jin dai huang jin jia" )

 

http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/direct-chair/zhang.htm
China 2006

 

In a world of decadence, with perfect palaces and perfect people, things are hardly ever perfect. The excesses are present but only to satisfy human desires. The maids are busty and gorgeous, the palace walls are adorned with gold, jewels and intricate carvings, the emperor, empress and their kids are flawless in appearance, but the palace is a microcosm for lies, treachery and hidden desires.

The movie follows the destruction of the imperial family in the Tang Dynasty. In this world, everybody has secrets, but everybody knows everything. The transparency of formality and normalcy has to override all the double-crossing and personal agendas. The odd thing is that nobody would ever know about these secrets because even if revealed they would never leave the palace walls. The movie takes place completely inside the palace walls, save for one small sequence, where the emperor decides to tie some loose ends. What do you do when you want to keep secrets that, when exposed, wouldn’t change anything? The outer layer is a lot more important than the inside.

The palace is tremendous and the costumes are breathtaking. Always known for the stunning cinematography in his films, director Zhang Yimou once again crafts a story through visuals. The framing is amazing and shows off the ridiculously ornate sets. The colours are a character of their own and combined with the work of director of photography Zhang Xiaoding (who previously worked with the director on ‘House of Flying Daggers’, with tremendous shots), the movie has great life and vibrancy. The beyond-vivid colours bring out the larger than life characters.

Gong Li teams up with the director for the first time since 1995’s ‘Shanghai Triad’ and she’s in fine form with the director. She gives a stunning and heartfelt performance. Chow Yun-fat is once again tremendous, and his charisma permeates every frame he’s in. Taiwanese pop star Jay Chou and Mainlander Liu Ye play the princes and give believable performances. The rest of the cast populates the movie, bringing this microcosm to life. The trials and tribulations of this family may not be normal, but they represent something much bigger.

Zhang Yimou directs a wonderfully visual movie. Though it will no doubt be marketed in the West as an action movie (artistically choreographed by Ching Siu-tung), the movie is essentially a drama. Taking out the action would not take any of the pertinence or entertainment value of the movie. The sumptuous sets and lavish production values cost a pretty penny, and the money definitely shows.

This is the third in Zhang Yimou’s action trilogy (which includes ‘Hero’ and ‘
House of Flying Daggers’) and neither has the depth, meaning or action of the previous movies. It is, however a visual feast, an orgiastic experience akin to the lavish lifestyles of the royal family. Unfortunately with excess comes consequences and someone has to pay for the decadence and excess.

Pat Pilon

Posters

Theatrical Release: December 21, 2006

Reviews    More Reviews  DVD Reviews

DVD Comparison: 

Edko Video (Limited Collector's DVD Boxset) - Region 3 - NTSC vs. Sony - Region 1- NTSC

Edko Video (Limited Collector's DVD Boxset) - Region 3 - NTSC LEFT vs. Sony - Region 1- NTSC RIGHT

DVD Box Cover

Thinking of buying from YesAsia? CLICK HERE and use THIS UPDATED BEAVER PAGE to source their very best...

 

Distribution

Edko Video

Region 3 - NTSC

Sony

Region 1 - NTSC

<- There is also a 'standard' version (also region 3) of the film on DVD by Edko currently available from Yes Asia HERE

Runtime 1:53:27 1:54:52
Video

2.32:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 7.48 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

2.35:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.25 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate: Edko

Bitrate: Sony

Audio Mandarin DTS-ES (768 kbps), Mandarin Dolby Digital 5.1 EX (384 kbps), Cantonese Dolby Digital 5.1 EX (384 kbps) Mandarin Dolby Digital 5.1 (384 kbps), DUB: English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384 kbps)
Subtitles Traditional Chinese, English, none English, French, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Edko Video

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.32:1

Edition Details:
• Documentary - Secrets Within (21:44, w/ optional Chinese and English subs)
• Theatrical Trailers (0:40/1:46)
• Photo Gallery (15 pictures)
• Cast Filmographies (8 profiles)
• Crew Filmographies (10 profiles)

DVD Release Date: February 13, 2007
Keep case

Chapters 12

Release Information:
Studio: Sony Pictures

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.35:1

Edition Details:
• "Secrets Within” behind-the-scenes featurette
 (21:51, with English subs)
Los Angeles Premiere footage

DVD Release Date:
March 27, 2007
Keep case

Chapters 28

 

Edko Limited Collector's Edition Package

 

 

Comments:

ADDITION: Sony - Region 1- NTSC - March 07': The image quality of both appears to be very similar. The Edko has some saturated colors (looking less realistic) at times and the Sony shows a few less artifacts but the differences are negligible - but I will go with the Region 1. The big issue for me here are the subtitles - the Sony ones are disgustingly big and bright yellow - very intrusive onto the wonderful images (see below). I find it quite terrible.

There are some differences in the DUBs offered and subtitle choices. The Edko has the DTS where the Sony has only a 5.1 but it sounded quite buoyant to me with great separation in the rears.

They both sport the same subtitled featurette but the Edko has a few more bells and whistles with trailers and a photo gallery plus the trinkets - pins, a certificate of authenticity and a chess set?!

For my money you can keep the sundry keepsakes - as in my house they invariably end up in the trash. I certainly don't think they are worth an additional $50. The single HK DVD is $16 (Sony is $20) and if you are as perturbed about the atrocious Sony subtitles as I then that is what I suggest. If you don't mind that then the extra couple of bucks is worth it for Sony's marginally superior colors.

***

In addition to the features mentioned above, the Collector's Set comes with a couple of pins, a certificate of authenticity and a chess set!

Sorry there aren't any sub sample, but for some reason they didn't show up on the captures I tried to take. They're small and white and are very unobtrusive. On to the DVD...

The video is great. Edko has done strong work in the past and this is another example. It's not perfect, as I believe detail could be improved on (but not by much). The colours are vibrant and almost leap off the screen. The print is clean and crisp.

The audio is amazing, as well. Accurate positions, dynamic use of the speakers, especially during the action sequences. The big fight at the end is tremendous. A great mixing job here, on the same level as Hero, but not as bombastic, which some people didn't like too much about that track.

The sole significant extra is a 21-minute or so documentary which is clearly aimed at the international market. No doubt Sony will have this on their region 1 release. It's narrated in English, with the director, three main actors and action director talking, mostly in Mandarin. It's basically an EPK, but the behind the scenes footage is nice and you get some good tidbits of information. The trailers are likewise for the international market, given you see the Sony Pictures Classics logo at the start. Hopefully, Edko will spring for a second release (like they did with Hero and Fearless), but with better special features.

The package is great, with a chess set to keep you busy. The chess pieces are cardboard and not plastic, but it's still great to see the effort going into the release.

 - Pat Pilon

 



DVD Menus

 

Edko Video (Limited Collector's DVD Boxset) - Region 3 - NTSC LEFT vs. Sony - Region 1- NTSC RIGHT

 

 

 


Subtitle Sample

 

NOTE: Not exact frame

 

Edko Video (Limited Collector's DVD Boxset) - Region 3 - NTSC TOP vs. Sony - Region 1- NTSC BOTTOM

 

 


Screen Captures

 

Edko Video (Limited Collector's DVD Boxset) - Region 3 - NTSC TOP vs. Sony - Region 1- NTSC BOTTOM

 

 

 


 

Edko Video (Limited Collector's DVD Boxset) - Region 3 - NTSC TOP vs. Sony - Region 1- NTSC BOTTOM

 

 

 


 

Edko Video (Limited Collector's DVD Boxset) - Region 3 - NTSC TOP vs. Sony - Region 1- NTSC BOTTOM

 

 

 


 

Edko Video (Limited Collector's DVD Boxset) - Region 3 - NTSC TOP vs. Sony - Region 1- NTSC BOTTOM

 

 

 


 

Edko Video (Limited Collector's DVD Boxset) - Region 3 - NTSC TOP vs. Sony - Region 1- NTSC BOTTOM

 

 

 


 

Edko Video (Limited Collector's DVD Boxset) - Region 3 - NTSC TOP vs. Sony - Region 1- NTSC BOTTOM

 

 

 


 

Edko Video (Limited Collector's DVD Boxset) - Region 3 - NTSC TOP vs. Sony - Region 1- NTSC BOTTOM

 

 

 


Report Card:

 

Image:

tie (R1 slight edge)

Sound:

Edko

Extras: Edko
Menu: Sony

 

 

DVD Box Cover

Thinking of buying from YesAsia? CLICK HERE and use THIS UPDATED BEAVER PAGE to source their very best...

 

Distribution

Edko Video

Region 3 - NTSC

Sony

Region 1 - NTSC

<- There is also a 'standard' version (also region 3) of the film on DVD by Edko currently available from Yes Asia HERE



 

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