Dave's Rating:


… half-baked romance …

Who's in It: Ziyi Zhang, Gong Li, Michelle Yeoh, Ken Watanabe

The Basics: A Japanese geisha (Zhang) struggles against another, older, geisha rival (Li); her own desires for an unattainable man (Watanabe); and the English language in this old-school Hollywood melodrama that makes the word "Oriental" seem PC again.

What's the Deal? Remember in Sixteen Candles, how whenever Long Duk Dong showed up, there'd be a gong sound on the soundtrack? This movie is two and a half hours of that gong sound. To be fair, it's got a cast of beautiful people in beautiful settings, and you could turn off your critical-thinking skills and just enjoy that. But then again, if that's all you need for a good time, you could go watch Showgirls and be way more entertained.

Tower of Babble: The biggest problem here — aside from the half-baked romance part — is that Zhang and Li aren't the greatest English speakers. And it shows. A lot. You're torn between feeling sorry for them and wondering what the people in charge were thinking while it was being shot.

What's Good About It: Gong Li is all high-diva here, doing that imperious, vicious, stereotypical Dragon Lady thing and being cruel to Zhang. She's fun to watch. Michelle Yeoh keeps to herself, which was smart of her.

Fun Fact: The non-English speakers in the cast had to undergo intensive English instruction, and then the English-speaking cast had to switch dialects to Standard American English, which practically no one speaks anymore — it's the kind of English Audrey Hepburn used to speak, which made you think she was British — and that's why it all sounds so … weird.

Funner Fact: Gong Li used to be involved with acclaimed Chinese director Zhang Yimou. Then they broke up. Guess who he got to be his new girlfriend? Yep, Ziyi Zhang.


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