Cursed Titles

First of all, the movie should have been screened in Mandarin instead of Cantonese. Secondly, the Chinese title is far more interesting and the English translation is a bit short and may result in some Mat Sallehs misunderstanding the movie, most dramatically speaking. The Chinese title, 滿城盡帶黃金甲 can literally mean “the whole city wears the Gold Armour to their heart’s content”. Maybe the producers or (high chances) the marketing people felt that the word “Armour” is no longer cool and has been used by Jacky Chan before and this CURSE OF THE GOLDEN FLOWER is in fact a lot more exotic sounding. Exotic sounding but lost a critical meaning, I think. But why “cursed”? What has “cursed” got to do with it? hmmmm…..

The Chinese title is borrowed from a poem by a failed rebel Huang Chao and what he refered to as Golden Armour is actually a city clad in chrysanthemum flowers. Quote:

“If I could be the king of the flowers, I would allow the chrysanthemum to bloom with the peach blossom; The fragrance (of the chrysanthemum) would fill Chang’an City, and the city would be clothed in golden armour.”

But what has this to do with the story? The story is, in fact, nothing new to me because the storyline is nothing new. We have seen (or read) similar stories many times before (incest, power struggle, sibling rivalry, etc.) and in fact, this movie is based on the extremely popular Chinese play called “Lei Yu” (Thunderstorm) by Cao Yu.

So then what is good about this movie? First of all, the movie is very colourful. Secondly, the movie managed to somehow saved itself during the final half hour, else it will feel like it is dragging on forever, like an aeroplane spinning round and round but could not land. Thirdly, is Zhang Yimou’s final episode of his intended “wuxia” trilogy, beginning with HERO followed by HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS and now CURSE OF THE GOLDEN FLOWER, which means, after the Olympics, we can be spared of his further “wuxia” efforts (I hope…)

Come to think of it, this trilogy is not bad by normal standards but coming from Zhang Yimou, it somehow did not clicked. Maybe I am prejudiced. If this trilogy is directed by me, it will be praised sky high by my colleagues. Of the three, I think I like HERO the most. HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS is fine also but it felt more like a comedy than anything else, particularly the scene when Zhang Ziyi refuses to die. CURSE OF THE GOLDEN FLOWER is nothing really special.

But all three, no matter what I want to say, I must admit that they are all a great spectacle. Given a choice, I would rather Zhang Yimou made these three films rather than he has not.

Oh, and by the way, China has seen many uprisings in its history and because of my recent effort to study the rise of Communism in China, I appreciate the importance of rebellions the more, from the rise of the Yellow Turban rebellion to the An Lushan rebellion to the Taiping rebellion to the May 4th Movement which, according to my studies so far, is an important milestone that contributes to the rise of communism in China and to the Tianamen incident that marks, in my humble opinion, the begining of the end of Communist China. As Mao Zedong said:

“There are innumerable principles of Marxism, but in the last analysis they can all be summed up in one sentence: “To rebel is justified”. For thousands of years everyone said: “Oppression is justified, exploitation is justified, rebellion is not justified.” From the time Marxism appeared on the scene, this old judgment was turned upside down, and this is a great contribution.” – From “Stalin is our Commander”, pg. 453 Sources of Chinese Tradition.

Seems like Mao is eating his own words….

Whoa! It’s going to pop!

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