So I watched The Banquet last Friday evening. I think:
- The movie had some memorable images: the noh masks; the black-clad, implacable 羽林卫, the emperor’s elite guards, whose design seemed inspired by the Uruk-Hai in The Lord of the Rings and whose appearance filled the viewer with the same dread; tthe obviously computer-animated scorpion near the start of the movie; the duckweed-covered pool, in which koi swam and which was the focus of the too-long ending scene of the movie.
- Ge You is such a good actor.
- Zhou Xun had only one expression throughout the movie.
- The movie was good technically – elaborate sets, gorgeous costumes, crisp script, good to outstanding acting, and it was arresting visually and aurally – but it did not make me feel much for its characters. I felt most for the emperor (played by Ge You), who chose to drink from a poisoned cup because his life was no longer worth living. (Come to think of it, whatever their artistic merit, recent high-profile Chinese movies such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Hero, etc. make me feel less for their characters than sitcoms.)
- The audience killed Zhang Ziyi. If you watched the movie and have a different opinion, I’d love to hear it, so drop me an email or a comment :)