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The Banquet (2006)

The Banquet

A.K.A. The Night Banquet
Chinese Title: 夜宴 (Ye Yan)
Vietnamese Title: Da Yen
Genre: Action, Drama, Period, Adventure
Starring: Zhang Ziyi, Ge You, Daniel Wu, Zhou Xun
Screenwriters: Gangjian Qiu and Heyu Sheng
Director: Xiaogang Feng

The Banquet has been described as a loose adaptation of "Hamlet"; it is a tale of fate and revenge set in 10th century China. A new Emperor has usurped the throne through murder. Zhang Ziyi plays the widowed Empress, who marries the new Emperor (Ge You) only to protect herself, but also secretly plots his death with the help of the Crown Prince (Daniel Wu) and the Chief Minister (Ma Jingwu). Yet the Prince and Minister each have their own plans for the throne, and, of course, so does the Emperor. All these intrigues are brought to a climax when the Emperor calls for a lavish banquet, where the murderous plans are set in motion. According to director Feng Xiaogang: "If Hamlet is about a prince who must make a choice involving life and death, then The Banquet is about how each character must face a choice of life or death... All are motivated by desire, but as soon as they have begun their plans must grow more extreme, and they move step-by-step towards the abyss... They do not intend evil, but turn to it out of self-preservation and ever-growing ambition."
Source: HelloZiyi

Rating: B- (Good)
Rewatch Factor: Low
Comment: It is an interesting movie that attempts to offer another interpretation to Shakespeare's "Hamlet". The movie starts out slow and gradually build up to the climax, the banquet. There are many memorable artistic scenes in the movie, such as the dancing sequences near the beginning and near the end. In addition, the costumes and makeups in the movie are very dramatic and beautiful. One of the negative aspects about the movie is that some scenes and dialogues seem choppy and out of place. As a result, I failed to make an emotional connection with the major characters in the movie throughout most of the movie. Nevertheless, it is still a good watch for anyone who is interested in seeing a period drama about love and betrayal.