The Banquet (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner10/04/2008

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 131 mins

The Banquet is gorgeous to look at and the fight scenes are superb, but it's much too long and drags considerably in the middle section.

What's it all about?
Loosely based on Shakespeare's Hamlet, The Banquet stars Daniel Wu as Prince Wu Luan, who learns that his father has mysteriously died and that his uncle Li (Ge You) is to take over the throne and marry his stepmother, the Empress Wan (Ziyi Zhang). Surviving an attempt on his life, Wu Luan determines to return to the palace and take revenge on his uncle, who he believes has murdered his father.

However, when Wu Luan returns, his revenge plan hits a snag because he finds himself in a double love triangle, firstly because he is in love with his stepmother and secondly because the Grand Marshall's daughter, Qing Nu (Zhou Xun), is deeply in love with him and prepared to die for him. Meanwhile, Empress Wan, the Grand Marshall and Emperor Li are all hatching plots of their own.

The Good
The film looks gorgeous throughout, courtesy of sumptuous camerawork by cinematographer Zhang Li. Similarly, the fight scenes are beautiful to watch, which is unsurprising, given that they're choreographed by the legendary Yuen Wo Ping (The Matrix and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon).

Ziyi Zhang and Daniel Wu are both superb in the lead roles and their balletic, flirtatious dance-fight is a definite highlight. There's also good support from Zhou Xun, who makes a strong impression as the impassioned Qing.

The Bad
That said, the film drags considerably in the middle section and the script never really comes to life, particularly with regard to Ge You's character, who seems oddly underdeveloped. In addition, the film is at least twenty minutes too long and it wears out its welcome long before the end.

Worth seeing?
In short, The Banquet is gorgeous to look at and tasty in places but it's not quite as satisfying as it ought to be.

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Content updated: 20/07/2018 11:56

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