Director: Zhang Yimou
Cast: Jet Li, Tony Leung, Maggie Cheung, Zhang Ziyi
During the time when the Qin emperor was fighting to subdue and unite all China, a swordsman visits his palace with the news that he has vanquished three infamous assassins. It is, however, a ruse to enable him to approach close enough to the emperor to make a strike himself.
Extraordinarily intricate, finely wrought Russian doll of a movie, where the viewer is constantly wrongfooted along with the beady-eyed imperial interrogator. The wire work moves on from where Crouching Tiger left off, and frankly the feats of the swordsmen and women attain godlike proportions, dwarfing the performances and sacrificing much in the way of emotional engagement. Nevertheless, as often with this director, there are indelible images and the sheer film craft on display is staggering; one senses a very large budget is all there on the screen. And it is short.