Movie Review: Curse of the Golden Flower
"When autumn comes on Double Ninth Festival, / my flower [the chrysanthemum] will bloom and all others perish. / When the sky-reaching fragrance [of the chrysanthemum] permeates Chang'an, / the whole city will be clothed in golden armour."- Huang Chao
Here's one of those action films I really think is just too filled with conspiracies, tragedies and it's quite hard to sympathize with most characters maybe except for Crown Prince Wan (acted by Liu Ye) who by one way or another is stuck in tragedy born into a dysfunctional family. Emperor Ping speaks of principles yet he is shown to be a hypocrite, his stepmother the Empress Phoenix, an envious half-brother in Prince Jai (acted by Jay Chow) and the other envious half-brother Prince Yu. What is so utterly disgusting are these details- the emperor wants to turn his empress (who is his second wife) to become a vegetable under some kind of weird conspiracy while I can't feel sorry for the empress either because in a lot of evils, she is having an adulterous and incestuous affair (in name only) with her stepson Wan. What in the world is going on? Also there is some mysterious secret about the Crown Prince Wan that is about to be unveiled as the film goes to unfold. Gong Li and Chow Yun Fat make an extremely good role as the emperor and empress respectively.
So it's that Chrysanthemum Festival (or Double Nine Festival) to where the flowers are being designed in the Imperial palace. I did find the aesthetics nice yet the tragedy is really hitting forward. The Emperor Ping wants to reconcile with his second son Prince Jai who has been many times guilty of rebellion against one's parents which is scandal to any family imperial or not. Behind the scenes, Empress Phoenix has had her own secret information from a mysterious woman in black who is the mother of the lover of Crown Prince Wan named Jiang Chan (acted by Li Man) reveals the emperor's purpose to turn the Empress into a vegetable perhaps aware of the wicked affair his wife had with his son by some other woman who will later be revealed to be alive and kicking. And the conspiracy is that seriously crazy, I can't swallow but think I might side with Emperor Ping than his wicked and adulterous wife Empress Phoenix who has an affair with her stepson Crown Prince Wan to the point he stabbed himself.
I do also find the other two sons really ungrateful. Prince Jai is so greedy he wants to be Crown Prince, well his older half-brother is willing to give it to him so he can run off with his lover Jiang Chan. Also the Emperor is damn crazy to order the deaths of a physician, his wife and his daughter and why is that? Later we discover this SHOCKING REVELATION that this is what really happened. Crown Prince Wan's mother has not died, she was divorced from her first husband who married Phoenix to attain royal rights, and that Jiang Chan's mother is also Crown Prince Wan's mother which causes a HUGE amount of insanity. All these years you were in love with this guy and he's your mother's son by another man or your maternal half-brother? Now what is going on. So sadly, the Emperor succeeds in carrying out the assassination with his army of ninjas and samurais while Prince Jai is already leading the rebellion. Prince Yu kills his own brother, knows of the affair and tries to kill his father. In the outcome of the fight, the Emperor uses his golden belt and BEATS his son to death in an act of self-defense, the emperor upset that he killed his ungrateful son.
So one rebellion after the other, Prince Jai NEVER learns. Yes, I really think that guy's a brilliant strategist at the same time a MORON. He's been told by his father what is his, he must not get. And surely, his mother was his counselor to do wickedly and perhaps, it's the Emperor's karma. Sheesh... so his rebellion does get crushed after an awesome yet tragic battle. What is so stupid is that the Emperor, the Empress... and well you've got a lot of blood and yet the festival starts as if nothing happened? That's stupid. And well, the rebellious son gets held and he is told he will be spared from the law's demands if he personally administer's his mother's poison. Upset and with some love for his wicked mother, he commits a belly cut or hara kiri, some of his blood spills on the poisonous drug of the empress, the drug falls down on the cloth and the golden color is tainted, destroyed revealing the revelation, "Beautiful on the outside, ugly on the inside."
My rating? 7/10. It's a pretty decent tragedy but full of WTF details so it's average at best.