Which brings us to Curse of the Golden Flower, Yimou's latest epic sword and kung fu flick. Will it blow us away or will it bore us? The answer, actually, is somewhere in the middle. The plot is certainly less confusing than that of Daggers and Hero, dare we say it's even Shakespearean, but it's still, well, a little slow.
The plot revolves around the Later Tang dynasty over 1,000 years ago. While the Tang dynasty was considered a Golden Age, the Later Tang dynasty was the dynasty's decadent phase. The Emperor in the movie (Chow Yun Fat) is a stickler for ritual and tradition and will follow these despite the reality of what is going on around him. Which is what happens during decadent phases. This is especially true of the upcoming Chow Yang Festival, the festival of which most of the story revolves around. He comes back from wherever he was (it's not clear) and prepares his family to do the festival in all of its resplendent glory and to present the outward face of a sturdy, traditional family. We quickly learn, however, that while the Emperor wants to have the pretense of family and tradition, the family is falling apart around him. The Empress (Gong Li) is sleeping with her stepson, the stepson is sleeping with the help, and there's a battle between the stepson and her son over succession. Oh, and the Emperor is slowly poisoning the Empress by putting toxic roots in the the medicine he is forcing her to take.