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Opening Date
11 Oct 2018
NC16 Violence
116 mins
Mandarin with English & Chinese subtitles
Action, Drama
Zhang Yimou
Deng Chao, Sun Li
Pei is ruled by a wild, dangerous king. The king's military commander has fought bravely on the battlefield, but needs unique strategies to survive treachery in the king's court. He has cultivated a "shadow", a look-alike who can fool the king, as well as Pei's enemies, when deception proves necessary. Seeking final victory over a rival kingdom for control of the walled city of Jing, the king and the commander plot a secret attack. In training with his wife, the commander devises unconventional, lethal ways to use Pei's signature weapons and shields. The stage is set for an unprecedented battle.       
By Say Peng  09 Oct 2018
‘Shadow’ is Zhang’s most beautiful and accomplished film since ‘Hero’ and demonstrates that the elder Chinese director still has plenty more to offer.
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After the major critical and commercial failure of ‘The Great Wall’ (2017), Sixth Generation Chinese director Zhang Yimou is back in fine form. His new film is martial arts drama ‘Shadow’, which premiered at the Venice International Film Festival in September to great acclaim.

Set in the era of the Three Kingdoms, ‘Shadow’ is a complex tale of palace politics and doppelganger intrigue. The kingdom is being run by a timid King, played by Zheng Kai (‘The Ex-File 3’, ‘The Great Wall’). Under the King’s command is Commander Yu, played by Deng Chao (‘The Mermaid’, ‘Duckweed’).

Their enemy, led by General Yang, played by Hu Jun (‘Red Cliff’), has conquered the neighbouring city of Jingzhou, and will soon threaten to take over the kingdom. Yu advises the King to launch a preemptive strike against General Yang and his troops, but the King, too cowardly to start a war, prefers a more diplomatic approach, going to the extent of even offering his own sister (Guan Xiaotong) as concubine to General Yang’s son.

Enraged by the King’s passavity, Yu himself goes to challenge Yang in a one-on-one battle. When Yang sees Yu still standing fit, Yang is surprised. During their last confrontation, Yang dealt Yu a heavy crippling blow to the chest. Indeed, as viewers will learn early on, Yu has been rendered physically incapable to even stand and breathe properly. To maintain the status quo, Yu decides to employ a lookalike body double, Jing (also played Deng Chao). Everybody is none the wiser except Yu himself and his wife Madam, played by Sun Li (‘Devil and Angel’).

Whereas most of Zhang’s wuxia films are awashed in vibrant colours, ‘Shadow’, whose colour palette is inspired by Chinese ink painting and Ying Yang philosophy, is almost monochromatic. From the costumes to the set design to the rain-soaked locations, they have been treated to look as if they were lifted out of a Chinese ink painting. The relatively few interspersed scenes of wuxia combat are choreographed with artful grace and precision (in a manner reminiscent of Wong Kar-Wai’s ‘The Grandmaster’), and are set to a musical score that energetically interweaves the guqin and the flute.

‘Shadow’ is Zhang’s most beautiful and accomplished film since ‘Hero’ and demonstrates that the elder Chinese director still has plenty more to offer.
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