The Emperor and the Assassin 1998 / The stunning and slightly more accurate account of China’s unification, complete with battles and palace intrigue


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.

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