Director Zhang Yimou, returns to our screens with the third in his wushu film series, the first two films were the massive hits (both critically and box office), Hero and The House Of  The Flying Daggers. These two films were made of stunning visuals and amazing fight scenes, breathing new new life into the martial arts movie. This new film continues that tradition, this is a breathtakingly beautiful looking film.  

   The story is set in the 10th century at the end of the Tang Dynasty, as the Emperor returns to prepare for the annual Chrysanthemums festival, but all is not good at the palace. The queens health is drawing questions as is her close relationship with her step son, while her other son is having an frowned upon relationship. Where will it all end? The plot in this film is a bit like a wild soap opera at times but works quite well, leaving you wandering whats gonna happen next. The action sequences like the previous films are astounding considering the little use of CGI, you have the Emporer’s private Ninjas swinging in from the mountains and thousands of soldiers fighting in the grounds of the palace. What this film doesn’t do is subtlety, everything is on a grand scale, the amount of money that must of been  spent on the costumes is mind boggling and it shows, no wonder it was nominated for an Oscar in Costume Design.  The sets are beautiful with vivid colours and extremely orante set dressing. You feel you are really in an ancient palace.   Playing the role of the emperor is classic Hong Kong star Chow Yun Fat and in the role of his wife is the lovely Gong Li last seen in Miami Vice. 

  Compared to the previous films, it does pale slightly, but if you enjoyed Hero and Flying Daggers then you really need to check this out. I think it’s released on UK cinemas on April 13th, but if you don’t want to wait you can get it on Region 3 dvd from for £8.99, which obviously I did! Rating 7/10