Big question: Is "Curse of the Golden Flower" as exciting and passionate as writer-director Zhang Yimou's last action flick, "House of Flying Daggers"?
Catch it: If set design is your favorite category at the Oscars. The visuals are undeniably gorgeous, so colorful that some parts of "Curse of the Golden Flower" look like a Chinese restaurant in the Wonka factory.
Bottom line: Yimou's movies always look incredible, but this time around his work seems more like something to appreciate than to enjoy. It's a glorious work of art without nearly enough dramatic interest.
Bonus: Be thankful that our culture doesn't brand a tattoo on our face for breaking moral laws. Hey, Mike Tyson, what's your excuse?
Matt Pais is the metromix movies producer.
'Curse of the Golden Flower'
Directed by Zhang Yimou; written by Yimou, Wu Nan, Bian Zhihong; photographed by Zhao Xiaoding; edited by Cheng Long; production designed by Huo Tingxiao; music by Shigeru Umebayashi; produced by Bill Kong, Zhang Weiping. In Chinese, with English subtitles. A Sony Pictures Classics release; opens Friday at Landmark's Century Centre Cinema; Landmark's Renaissance Place Cinema, Highland Park; AMC River East 21; and Century CineArts, Evanston. Running time: 1:54. MPAA rating: R (for violence).
The Emperor - Chow Yun Fat
The Empress - Gong Li
Prince Jai - Jay Chou
Crown Prince Wan - Liu Ye
Imperial doctor's wife - Chen Jin
Imperial doctor - Ni Dahong
Chan - Li Man
Prince Yu - Qin Junjie