Saturday, August 24, 2019

Shadow (2019)

Every couple of months I have to seek out one of these Chinese Historical Dramas that I love so much. Since Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon I have been obsessed with these films. You would be too if you ever experiences some of the best examples of a style of filmaking that the Chinese have perfected. With much government resources committed to the industry, the filmakers can stage amazingly huge and complex battle sequences using soldiers as stunt people, essentially. The end result can often be dazzling.

Chinese director Zhang Yimou’s epic wuxia film draws inspiration for its bi-chromatic palette from the yin-and-yang symbol and Chinese ink-brush painting. During The Three Kingdoms (220–280 AD) era, a wounded military commander (Deng Chao) employs a doppelgänger (also portrayed by Deng) to replace him in public so that his kingdom betrays no sign of weakness.

This one tells the age old story of factions involved in one of the endless battles that seem to blend together throughout Chinese history. The real draw for me was the introduction of a weapon that I had never seen before - the iron umbrella.

Yes there are subtitles so you have to pay attention. I tend to watch these ones in twenty minute chunks before, like a hummingbird, my attention is diverted elsewhere. But that is good because they seems to pace these movies just for that kind of viewing mode. The story is a bit hard to follow because the same actors are playing multiple characters - their royal characters and their SHADOWS.

The actions scenes are insanely creative and unlike anything I have ever seen before and I have seen it all in this genre....or at least I thought I had. You only get a taste of it from the trailer. This is spectacle of the highest order. The director made House of Flying Daggers and Hero so this guys knows how to stage a the rain.

The battles in this film are as close to real as you can get. Yes they jump and spin all around but their is EFFORT exerted here. Spear against Iron Umbrella should not be any contest...yet. All the fight scenes are incredibly violent also. Fight choreography at the highest level.

And then it rains some more.

Oh and spoiler alert - never hover over your enemy to mock them after you have wounded them fatally. Likely, THAT will be the time when your own dumbass gets killed.

This one gets a little Shakespearean and no one has a smile to share unless they are really crazy.

There are no happy endings when you miss the King with your first shot.

But damn I loved it.


Meatpie said...

I'll have to check this out! Sounds great!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

We just watched this one Friday night. Visually stunning. The muted tones was something I've not seen before either.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

Those first 2 movie posters are gorgeous!

Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness said...

Alex it was a slow burn and you do have to pay attention but I liked it. Very contemplative. Like Shakespeare as I said.