Who's in It:
Hiroyuki Sanada, Jang Dong-Kun, Cecilia Cheung, Nicholas Tse
The Basics: Um, OK. So there's this princess in the mythic Chinese past, and she makes a bargain with a sorceress, and then three men vie for her affections. Then people fly around, and some people are in love with some other people. And then there's fighting and more flying around and
actually, I think I can explain the new Matthew Barney movie more easily than I can this one.
What's the Deal? It's dopey and boring, that's the deal. That happens when you decide to make a movie that pretends to be a big morality play, and all the while you subvert your own intentions by video-gaming it up nonstop with tacky special effects and lamely choreographed and shot martial arts.
What Doesn't Suck: There are some wacky costumes that make the warrior characters look like the villains on an episode of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. That's always fun. And then there's the scene in which the princess is liberated from a giant birdcage and her rescuer flies her like a kite through the air.
Even the Good Guys Screw Up Sometimes: Chen Kaige directed this. He's a big-deal "Fifth Generation" Chinese filmmaker. He directed the great Farewell, My Concubine (which won the Palme d'Or at Cannes when it came out), Temptress Moon and Yellow Earth. He's not a hack. So, better luck next time, man.
Old Reliables: Hero, House of Flying Daggers, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Really, you'd be better off just watching any of these again.