2 Best Movies to Watch by Li Qiang

Staff & contributors
If there’s one thing to say about House of Flying Daggers, it’s that it’s absolutely, absurdly, downright beautiful. The sets are lavishly designed, the landscapes are gorgeous, the colorful costumes are elaborately embroidered, the fight and dance choreography are breathtaking, every shot is colorful, and even the three leads in the love triangle are some of the most beautiful Chinese actors of the time (maybe, perhaps, of all time). That being said, some viewers might find that the beauty of each scene isn’t enough to carry through the film’s fairly convoluted plot, with everyone lying to each other all the time. There’s a thread here about being ordered into actions that would later be used to condemn you, and the way love intersects with that is fairly romantic stuff, but House of Flying Daggers doesn’t quite reach the emotional heights it could have had with a more streamlined script.

Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama

Actor: Andy Lau, Chengyuan Li, Dandan Song, Hao Bojie, Hongfei Zhao, Jiusheng Wang, Jun Guo, Li Qiang, Shu Zhang, Song Dandan, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Yongxin Wang, Zhang Shu, Zhang Ziyi, Zheng Xiao-Dong, Zhengyong Zhang, Ziyi Zhang

Director: Yimou Zhang, Zhang Yimou

Rating: PG-13

If you wanted to watch an epic historical drama about the three assassination attempts against the first emperor of China, 2002’s Hero is the better known, and better acclaimed, choice. Nevertheless, the drama that depicted this four years earlier, the Emperor and the Assassin, is a fairly decent watch, with nearly three hours to parse out Ying Zheng’s career with extravagant production design and excellent performances to marvel at. The film is also slightly more accurate, taking its characters from actual historical record. The Emperor and the Assassin may not be perfect– it’s aggressively sepia-tinged, and it does struggle to maintain the plot’s focus– but it depicts the history well, regardless.

Genre: Drama, History

Actor: Chen Kaige, Ding Haifeng, Gong Li, Li Hongtao, Li Qiang, Li Xuejian, Lü Xiaohe, Pan Changjiang, Sun Zhou, Wang Qian-Yuan, Zhang Fengyi, Zhao Benshan, Zhiwen Wang, Zhou Xun

Director: Chen Kaige

Rating: R