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Legend of the Black Scorpion [Import]

Ziyi Zhang , You Ge , Xiaogang Feng    Unrated   DVD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 10.92 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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Frequently Bought Together

Legend of the Black Scorpion [Import] + House of Flying Daggers Bilingual + Curse of the Golden Flower (Sous-titres français)
Price For All Three: CDN$ 35.71



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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A feast! Aug. 9 2010
By Marz
Format:DVD
This beautifully directed and wonderfully acted adaptation of Hamlet left me breathless. It is touching, powerful, magical and dark. If you've enjoyed films like Hero and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, you will probably love this film. If you are like me, you will actually prefer this film. I can't praise the art direction enough - I could almost touch and taste the film in all of its radiant and sinister moment. This is one I am glad to own. A superb drama.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Banquet in China April 30 2012
By Arquero
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
An intriguing story, that can become somewhat lost in it's quest for blood; but that hardly detracts from the excellent cinemaphotography, artistic presence, and mystical musical soundtrack.

Highly entertaining to say the least, I'm sure viewers of all types will find something thoughtful to walk away with.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Sept. 15 2009
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Not only is this a great flic along with Crouching Tiger, Hero, Curse of the Golden Flower and House of Flying Daggers, it's one of the most beautiful filmed movies of all time. A true joy.
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1 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD
Very good movie. Love it as I always love Japanese movies. The artistic, the color, the sound, the music, the writing, the amgst. Not too much dialogue but so much feelings with the eyes and faces of the artists..
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  60 reviews
58 of 64 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 3  stars: Beautifully shot and Artfully Presented...ultimately comes off a bit Cold. Geared towards an international audience. Jan. 12 2008
By Woopak - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
LEGEND OF THE BLACK SCORPION (a.k.a. The BANQUET) is the Chinese rendition of Shakespeare's "Hamlet". Directed by Mainland China's own acclaimed director Feng Xiaogang, joined with the lush cinematography by Tim Yip (Croaching Tiger Hidden Dragon) and the action choreography by Yuen Woo-Ping( Fearless); the film is set to bring Chinese Wuxia epic to new heights. Feng even acquired the services of one of China's most renowned international actresses; Zhang Ziyi.
The film was released in Asia in 2006( before "Curse of the Golden Flower"), set for the American market but for reasons unknown, "Curse of the Golden Flower" was marketed instead to U.S. shores.

Synopsis loosely derived from Media Asia DVD back cover:
The story is set in ancient China during the period of Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms. Against this backdrop of internal turmoil and external threat poised by the neighboring Khitan Empires, lives Empress Wan (Zhang Ziyi). As beautiful as she is limber, she harbors forbidden desires for her stepson Crown Prince Wu Luan (Daniel Wu). When the Emperor dies of reasons undetermined and his younger brother Li takes the throne, Wan marries Li to protect Wu Luan and seal her own position in the ruling body. But Li is not a fool and dispatches assassins that ultimately fail to kill Wu Luan. When Emperor Li proclaims a big banquet, Wu Luan and Wan realize it is time to strike.

The Banquet (I prefer to call it by its original title) is a beautiful film; elaborate costumes and set designs are the main draw of the film. Frankly, I liked this film's cinematography, atmosphere and set designs more than "Curse of the Golden Flower". The film simply looks astounding, the colors and way it is shot is truly amazing. However, beauty and cinematography can only carry a film so far. The expectations for "The Banquet" are extremely high, and while it does succeed as a high-quality spectacle that is a visual and aural feast; it fails to deliver on emotions and its characters. Even Yuen Woo-Ping's action direction feels a little hampered with the overused slow-motion approach undertaken by the director. Still, the film is better than most. It presents itself similar to a stage play (which is fine, it is "Hamlet") but I believe this style does hurt the film a little. The film is carefully and superbly arranged with characters well-mannered that even assassins conduct themselves politely even in the face of blood. The Banquet is more a period drama than a Wuxia film, in fact, I believe the film could have survived without any martial arts action.

Amazingly beautiful Zhang Ziyi struggles to carry the film. As good and beautiful the actress is, even Zhang cannot carry a film all by herself. Her portrayal of Empress Wan is actually the film's center; Zhang's character is in the middle of deception, lust and eventual betrayal. Thankfully, Zhang has the charisma to pull off an underdeveloped character such as Empress Wan. However, Zhang feels a bit unseasoned and too young (perhaps) for the role of the empress. Don't get me wrong, I think Zhang Ziyi is an awesome actress, but the role feels tailor-made for Chinese veteran actress Gong Li. Daniel Wu plays Wu Luan; a brooding, quiet and never shows his emotions in calculating vengeance. Wu plays an acceptable performance, after all, he does play "Hamlet" which was meant as a person with minor momentum, instead of displaying raw anger he imposes his wrath through indirect means. I guess it was a good move for the screenplay to emphasize Empress Wan's character than Wu Luan himself, I doubt Daniel Wu will be able to carry the film at all.

The performances are good for the most part. It's just that the characters seemed a bit underdeveloped that the lead characters will have some difficulty connecting with its audience. The film does take off strongly but it couldn't stay aloft. Supporting actress Zhao Xun (Ming Ming) has huge talent but her character of Quing is too simple and a bit one-dimensional. Ge You comes out with an outstanding performance as Emperor Li; his powerful portrayal is truly superb and note-worthy. Ultimately, while this film is loosely based on "Hamlet", the climax does occur in a banquet and this is a Chinese film where the old adage applies: No evil deed will go unpunished and repaid.

The Banquet is a very difficult film to judge. The film feels too mainstream for a Wuxia Epic drama and it seems geared towards international audiences and not to the people of Feng's native land. The film is definitely a part of the superficial, overindulgent popular Chinese film for viewers in the U.S. It is not a contemporary Wuxia film but rather one so polished for international acclaim (then again, I've read it was its intention). The lack of emotions and character depth never allows the film to surpass its gorgeous costumes and set designs. The film does succeed in the classic manipulations and plots of betrayal; but ultimately, the lasting impression is how beautifully shot and expensive the film is that it falls a bit short of epic grandeur. The film is better than most, it is better than Chen Kaige's "The Promise" but if you saw "HERO" and " HOUSE of FLYING DAGGERS"; the film just cannot surpass the coldness of its exterior.

RECOMMENDED [3  stars]

Note: The Dragon Dynasty release (re-titled Legend of the Black Scorpion) will carry an English dubbed track.
23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars On Par With The Best of Yimou Zhang April 5 2008
By Elyon - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
How this film missed the American theater circuits is inexplicable! One of the most visually sumptuous portrayals of court life and intrigue since Bertolucci's The Last Emperor, and on par, if not surpassing, the historical martial arts epics of Yimou Zhang. This is a must for anyone that enjoys or appreciates this genre of Chinese cinema, and is the best cinematic adaptation of Hamlet that I can recall. It also is accompanied by an excellent critical commentary (which may aid those who find the film "cold" or the ending incomprehensible).
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars EXCELLENT MOVIE Aug. 11 2010
By Paul Scott - Published on Amazon.com
LEGEND OF THE BLACK SCORPION (a.k.a. The BANQUET) is the Chinese rendition of Shakespeare's "Hamlet". Directed by Mainland China's own acclaimed director Feng Xiaogang, joined with the lush cinematography by Tim Yip (Croaching Tiger Hidden Dragon) and the action choreography by Yuen Woo-Ping( Fearless); the film is set to bring Chinese Wuxia epic to new heights. Feng even acquired the services of one of China's most renowned international actresses; Zhang Ziyi.
The film was released in Asia in 2006( before "Curse of the Golden Flower"), set for the American market but for reasons unknown, "Curse of the Golden Flower" was marketed instead to U.S. shores.

Synopsis loosely derived from Media Asia DVD back cover:
The story is set in ancient China during the period of Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms. Against this backdrop of internal turmoil and external threat poised by the neighboring Khitan Empires, lives Empress Wan (Zhang Ziyi). As beautiful as she is limber, she harbors forbidden desires for her stepson Crown Prince Wu Luan (Daniel Wu). When the Emperor dies of reasons undetermined and his younger brother Li takes the throne, Wan marries Li to protect Wu Luan and seal her own position in the ruling body. But Li is not a fool and dispatches assassins that ultimately fail to kill Wu Luan. When Emperor Li proclaims a big banquet, Wu Luan and Wan realize it is time to strike.

The Banquet (I prefer to call it by its original title) is a beautiful film; elaborate costumes and set designs are the main draw of the film. Frankly, I liked this film's cinematography, atmosphere and set designs more than "Curse of the Golden Flower". The film simply looks astounding, the colors and way it is shot is truly amazing. However, beauty and cinematography can only carry a film so far. The expectations for "The Banquet" are extremely high, and while it does succeed as a high-quality spectacle that is a visual and aural feast; it fails to deliver on emotions and its characters. Even Yuen Woo-Ping's action direction feels a little hampered with the overused slow-motion approach undertaken by the director. Still, the film is better than most. It presents itself similar to a stage play (which is fine, it is "Hamlet") but I believe this style does hurt the film a little. The film is carefully and superbly arranged with characters well-mannered that even assassins conduct themselves politely even in the face of blood. The Banquet is more a period drama than a Wuxia film, in fact, I believe the film could have survived without any martial arts action.

Amazingly beautiful Zhang Ziyi struggles to carry the film. As good and beautiful the actress is, even Zhang cannot carry a film all by herself. Her portrayal of Empress Wan is actually the film's center; Zhang's character is in the middle of deception, lust and eventual betrayal. Thankfully, Zhang has the charisma to pull off an underdeveloped character such as Empress Wan. However, Zhang feels a bit unseasoned and too young (perhaps) for the role of the empress. Don't get me wrong, I think Zhang Ziyi is an awesome actress, but the role feels tailor-made for Chinese veteran actress Gong Li. Daniel Wu plays Wu Luan; a brooding, quiet and never shows his emotions in calculating vengeance. Wu plays an acceptable performance, after all, he does play "Hamlet" which was meant as a person with minor momentum, instead of displaying raw anger he imposes his wrath through indirect means. I guess it was a good move for the screenplay to emphasize Empress Wan's character than Wu Luan himself, I doubt Daniel Wu will be able to carry the film at all.

The performances are good for the most part. It's just that the characters seemed a bit underdeveloped that the lead characters will have some difficulty connecting with its audience. The film does take off strongly but it couldn't stay aloft. Supporting actress Zhao Xun (Ming Ming) has huge talent but her character of Quing is too simple and a bit one-dimensional. Ge You comes out with an outstanding performance as Emperor Li; his powerful portrayal is truly superb and note-worthy. Ultimately, while this film is loosely based on "Hamlet", the climax does occur in a banquet and this is a Chinese film where the old adage applies: No evil deed will go unpunished and repaid.

The Banquet is a very difficult film to judge. The film feels too mainstream for a Wuxia Epic drama and it seems geared towards international audiences and not to the people of Feng's native land. The film is definitely a part of the superficial, overindulgent popular Chinese film for viewers in the U.S. It is not a contemporary Wuxia film but rather one so polished for international acclaim (then again, I've read it was its intention). The lack of emotions and character depth never allows the film to surpass its gorgeous costumes and set designs. The film does succeed in the classic manipulations and plots of betrayal; but ultimately, the lasting impression is how beautifully shot and expensive the film is that it falls a bit short of epic grandeur. The film is better than most, it is better than Chen Kaige's "The Promise" but if you saw "HERO" and " HOUSE of FLYING DAGGERS"; the film just cannot surpass the coldness of its exterior.

RECOMMENDED [3  stars]

Note: The Dragon Dynasty release (re-titled Legend of the Black Scorpion) will carry an English dubbed track.
15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It tried to be more... March 12 2008
By Jem - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
My husband ordered this DVD so I had no expectations on quality or any knowledge of the story. It didn't take me long to figure out it was based on Shakespeare's "Hamlet." Unfortunately, it didn't do justice to that classic, tragic story.

This film is a good example of what has almost become a genre - films that attempt to duplicate the success of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon." We've bought and seen "Hero," "House of Flying Daggers," and "Curse of the Golden Flower." They all have the near-flying martial arts, expertly choreographed fights and gorgeous costumes. We enjoyed them all, but where these films fall short, including Black Scorpion, is the stories lack the magic of CTHD. That tale of unattainable love, wrapped in a mystery was original, with superb acting and a new take on action. This one would have been better served to follow Hamlet more closely as the changes they made did NOT improve the story. They slowed the movie down, or caused confusion. And the movie was very slowly paced to begin with.

The story is focused on the empress' point of view, rather than the prince as in Hamlet. That works just fine, as Ziyi Zhang is captivating in the role. She gives life to what could have been an awful movie rather than just a disappointing one. The old emperor dies from a Scorpion bite and his brother usurps the throne from the prince and steals the empress, who had already been stolen from the crown prince by the last emperor. Familiar characters appear, from Polonius, to Ophelia (who is the best represented character in the film) to Laertes and the royal family. We have the mousetrap play, wherein the prince does indeed catch the conscience of a king and the kill all the lawyers ending. Except, the ending has a distracting and confusing change that leaves the viewer hanging - literally. I won't spoil it, but one of the main characters dies after the climactic confrontation, but who does the deed is never revealed and is all the more confusing since everybody who is anybody has already died or been exiled!

As to this edition, the DVD does have a dubbed track available and is very well done. After 15 minutes, I forgot it was being dubbed. Though it is a two disc edition, there is nothing spectacular in the extras. The making of featurette is perhaps the most interesting, but there are also two translated interviews and a behind the scenes bit. There is no extra footage, or featurettes on costumes, or better yet a piece on the historical time period.

Overall, if you enjoyed the other films you'll enjoy this one though likely not as much. If you've never read Hamlet, you'll like it even more. I recommend the single disc edition over paying so much for 2 discs, but some viewers will enjoy the extras. Cautiously recommended.
15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sometimes aesthetics are enough May 29 2009
By SB - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
There's no point in rehashing the premise/actors/other details of this film, as other reviewers are hitting it. I'll simply make my arguments.

I agree that this film, for all its depiction of treachery and pathos, is cold and cerebral. I agree that the action is also depicted on a very cerebral level: it is so stylized that it is robbed of its intensity--certainly robbed of the visceral aspect that would appeal to those who are looking for an action movie. So I certainly advise against it for those looking for a great martial arts film. Check out "Tai Chi Master" or "Fong Sai Yuk" for that!

What is left after the emotional attachments and thrill of combat are removed? A purely aesthetic masterpiece. This is truly an "art" film: sight and sound combine in moving paintings, symbols, and stylized archetypes.

You will not be drawn in by the story and the characters. You will be drawn in by the crystalline imagery and sound that form an alternate universe in which everything is perfect form, hypnotic motion. Beautiful images are frozen in space and time, haunting music and movement and color supersede all other concerns.

We know Hamlet. We know this story. We know these characters. Here story and character are cyphers. In this film the source Hamlet simply functions as a framework to hang a filmed aesthetic, a transformation of the world into stylized form. Is it enough? Is this all that is necessary to make a great film? Yes. If you are sensitive to it, you will be stunned and enthralled. If you are not, you will be bored.
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