I was very excited to watch the wuxia film "The Legend of the Black Scorpion". Wuxia (Wuxiá with the accent marks) is a distinct quasi-fantasy sub-genre of the martial arts genre. The thing one must remember when sitting down to a wuxia film is that you will always get action, the catch is what that action is paired with that will flavor the feel of film. In the case of The Legend of the Black Scorpion they paired it with drama and made an excellent moving film.
The movie is about Ziyi Zhang staring as Empress Wan, a conniving woman whose beauty is equaled by her taste for power. She lustfully longs for her stepson Wu Lan (Daniel Wu). But when the Emperor dies, it is Wu Lan's younger brother who ascends to the throne, setting off a chain of events that are tragic.
The visuals were breath taking with vivid colors and perfect backdrops. The film plot was a retelling of Shakespeare's Hamlet. That being said it was not another boring Hamlet retelling. They really did both the story of Hamlet justice while making the story fit within the wuxia setting, Chinese culture, ethics and Courtly life. For instance: ********** spoiler Alert ********** they changed the Rosencrantz and Guildenstern part into a group of assassins that were sent to kill the prince by his uncle. The assassins succeed on killing everyone including the royal guard group that was sent to escort the prince back but the prince hid from the fight and escaped. When the assassins got close to returning to the emperor's palace they were met with an envoy of the emperor and were instructed of their failure. Upon which they did the only honorable thing left to do, dispatch with their on lives. ************* End Spoiler Alert ************ It was fascinating to see that the spirit of the Rosencrantz and Guildenstern part of Hamlet stayed the same, they were sent to dispatch Hamlet, failed and were instead dispatched by the king yet told in a fresh and different manor. More information can be found on the Dragon Dynasty web site.
- Fight's were really well balanced and suspenseful. Both sides have exceptional skill that matched with their position and both sides suffered causalities.
- The use of creating immense honor by pairing it with immense consequence for action.
- Subtle use of terms in relation to political maneuvering.
- I loved how the royal guards who would have had immense unit combat training would operate as one super fighter consisting of many separate parts.
- they resisted long boring travel scenes, like to and from the palace, no helicopter shot :)
- They avoided the uncomfortable incestuous relations between hamlet and his mother by making the mother the princes age and them childhood lovers that the emperor took as his wife.
Dislikes / Concerns
- Typical story elements for wuxia tales: corrupt uncle who takes control and tries to have emperor son killed although in the films defense that is the main story element of Hamlet too. The concern is mainly that I have seen those basic elements in a lot of entertainment lately and have grown tired of it.
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