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Shadow (2018)

Discussion in 'Konoha Theatre' started by mr_shadow, Oct 12, 2018.

  1. mr_shadow Minister of State Security Moderator

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    Twelve years after Curse of the Golden Flower (2006), Zhang Yimou is apparently back to making super-stylized wuxia films. Gonna have to see this.

    Of course strictly speaking his last film (2017) was also a return to this style, but... that was a movie about Wuxia vs Aliens, so let's pretend it doesn't exist.

    Inexplicably it's not playing in any Hong Kong theaters yet, so I'll probably have to hop across the border to see it in Shenzhen.

    @MartialHorror @Mider T @makeoutparadise @Alwaysmind @DonutKid
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2018
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  2. Mider T Oh Christmas T!

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    You have to hop across the border to see your own biopic?
     
  3. mr_shadow Minister of State Security Moderator

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    Hero (2002)



    House of Flying Daggers (2004)



    Curse of the Golden Flower (2006)



    The Great Wall (2017)

     
  4. mr_shadow Minister of State Security Moderator

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    Off to see this now.

    Two-hour ride to Shenzhen, then two hours back.

    Am I a true fan or what?
     
  5. Mider T Oh Christmas T!

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    4 hours round trip for a movie? Pssh. Try 9 hours round trip for some fast food. Driving not the train too.
     
  6. mr_shadow Minister of State Security Moderator

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    Now you have to explain.
     
  7. Mider T Oh Christmas T!

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    Jollibee. It's a Filipino fried chicken franchise chain with a few locations in the U.S. I wanted to impress a Filipino girl who didn't think I would take her on such a trip. It worked and the chicken was good.:zaru
     
  8. mr_shadow Minister of State Security Moderator

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    Saw it.

    This was like getting a pair of socks wrapped in the most beautiful packaging imaginable.

    That is to say, the visuals and score are all the jaw-dropping Zhang Yimou glory we've come to expect, but the plot and especially the characters were uninteresting and forgettable.

    I rank it third in the Zhang Wuxia Universe.

    1. Hero (2002)
    2. Curse of the Golden Flower (2006)
    3. Shadow (2018)
    4. House of Flying Daggers (2004)
    5. The Great Wall (2017)

    Best part was Deng Chao's performance as both a half-insane general and his epynomous "shadow" body double; most of the time in the same scene! He's so great at keeping their postures and voices different that I actually had to ask my friend if the two characters were the same actor or not. Give this man a Golden Horse (China's Oscar) for best actor.

    Sun Li very underused. She's supposed to be one of the best actresses in China, and this could have been her shot at replacing disgraced Fan Bingbing as the queen of cinema, but they have her like three lines. -_- The girl who plays the king's sister was better.

    The final battle had a kind of goofy moment of people sliding down a hill on umbrellas. I'd have taken out that as well as the non-historic weapons that felt too high-tech for what's supposed to be like the pre-Xia mythical past.
     
  9. mr_shadow Minister of State Security Moderator

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  10. MartialHorror The Convicted Cinephile!

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    Okay, okay, you're savior is here and he's not wearing pants.

    The trailer looked good. Since you saw it Mr. Shadow, is it some sort of horror-thriller/wuxia hybrid? For a wuxia flick, it seemed kind of moody and creepy.

    I think I preferred "The Great Wall" over "House of Flying Daggers", the latter of which I thought was messy, cheesy and bland compared to his other works...whereas I thought "Great Wall" was merely bland.
     
  11. mr_shadow Minister of State Security Moderator

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    Not really. It's just shot in a style that's supposed to emulate Chinese landscape painting, so except for human skin everything else in the movie is in grayscale. It also constantly rains. It's similar to the color palette at the opening of Hero. (See for example the fight between Jet Li and Donnie Yen linked above)

    As said in the trailer, the premise is that when this general was 8 years old his uncle kidnapped a street urchin that looked just like him and trained him to be his body-double. For decades he didn't actually use the double but instead just kept him locked up out of sight. But when the movie starts the general suffers a near-fatal wound during a duel with an enemy commander and is left handicapped, along with disgracefully losing a strategically important city.

    At this point he decides to activate the "Shadow" to take his place, while he himself hides in the palace catacombs. In there he slowly turns into a bitter Gollum-like figure.

    Aside from merely appearing in court on his behalf, he also wants the Shadow to improve his kung fu so he can get revenge on the enemy commander and reclaim the lost city, thereby restoring his glory.

    ---

    Probably what the writers were going for is a variation on the nature vs nurture theme, where despite being physically identical the general and his Shadow end up having different moral compasses; one is a megalomaniac slowly descending into madness whereas the other is just a normal guy who's conflicted about having to pretend to be somebody else all day.

    [Being a Chinese production you could actually have set this story in present day and had it be about Mao's body doubles, which I'm sure he had just like Stalin and Kim did]

    But as I said the script doesn't quite work. There's too much "tell, don't show". For example an unforgivable omission is that we never actually see the Shadow's upbringing - we just hear about it in the dialogue. We also don't really see the enemy commander fight anybody except the protagonist, so you don't properly establish that he's supposed to be this godlike Hector figure that only Achilles can defeat.

    We also don't really see the Shadow having to do any truly reprehensible acts for the sake of keeping up his character. We're just told that he's conflicted. When you could have easily shown him having to order the beheading of 100 captured enemies because "that's what the general would have done."
     
  12. mr_shadow Minister of State Security Moderator

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    Google says the film has secured a North American distributor and is set for release in "early 2019".

    So don't despair.
     
  13. Detective ★★★★★★★

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    Jollibee is shit

    But hopefully you smashed.
     
  14. Mider T Oh Christmas T!

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    Wrong. Only black people make better fried chicken than Asians.

    And of course I did. Who do you think I am, DDJ? She was gassy from all of the fried food though.
     
  15. Detective ★★★★★★★

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    I am happy your banana was peeled. Good job, soldier. *Salute*
     
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