Zhang Yimou returns to the screen with an explosive tale of intrigue and action set within the warring Three Kingdoms. A wild and ambitious ruler, his loyal but cunning commander, and a double he’s set up as insurance play games of deceit as war rages through their kingdom.
Swapping his color palette for an aesthetic largely inspired by the ancient Chinese painting tradition of ink brush, Zhang Yimou presents another historic slice of war and intrigue set in the rich period of the Three Kingdoms.
The king of Pei is a wild and ambitious man who aims to conquer and/or destroy everything in his path, and while he’s served loyally by his military commander, his court is full of betrayal and intrigue. To deceive his enemies both in and outside the kingdom, the commander has cultivated a “shadow,” a lookalike who can pass for him and easily trick just about anyone. Add the commander’s wife into the mix and the stage is set for an explosive and treacherous confrontation.
With brilliant performances by Ryan Zheng as the king and Deng Chao as both the commander and the “shadow,” Zhang Yimou’s brilliant film mixes stunning visuals with an intricate plot that will both delight and surprise fans of the genre. The scale of the action scenes is absolutely spectacular, and Yimou’s staging of these scenes is nothing short of groundbreaking. Add in a glorious and breathtaking score and SHADOW becomes a film that demands to be seen with the full immersion of the big screen.
Whether you’re a die-hard fan or discovering the director for the first time, SHADOW is an experience — like stepping into an ancient painting as it comes to life — that will absolutely enthrall. (EVRIM ERSOY)