The choreography is not a commercial trick, the slow motion is not to splash around, it expresses ruthlessly.
Yimou Zhang, if not a filmmaker, should be a fashion designer. I don’t know why I said fashion designer. Just designer would suffice. But I suppose it his elegance in the eye popping fabric; i.e the crux of the game, war to be precise, that stylizes the storytelling to its pinnacle. There is not a single element- technical element- that goes waste by. And I have to mention the visual spectacle that this film is. Almost sung by two colors in unison the set pieces, the clothes, the weapons and the sacrifices are only and could only be poisoned by the abhorrence that the color red is.
And it is not just the act that spills the screen with the color red. It is also the evil side of the sacrifice, balancing this honorable world of Zhang. The reasoning, more honestly, the betrayal isn’t seduced nor is challenged in Zhang’s film. And instead it is very much inherited. There is arrogance in the blood that has to come out. The bad boy nature of the film that rattles yours and theirs morality, is something to ponder about. And it is not a film that stays with you for those two hours.
Not only does the film keeps you at the edge of your toes with its thought provoking themes, but also leaves you halfway through, not situationally but ethically, to start rediscovering the map. That bit, right there. Is breathtaking. Not a lot of film gives you that satisfaction. Or doesn’t give you that satisfaction. Until you’re done with the last act, you will find it difficult to know where will this tale land. It keeps you guessing, mostly because the characters itself are. Not just the Shadow is guessing and hoping for a safe way out, but even its master is bound to.