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Director Zhang Yimou (“House of Flying Daggers”, “The Great Wall”) in his latest film “Shadow”, sheds upon viewers a magnificent epic of vintage Chinese lore: warring factions, recalcitrant, narcissistic leaders, romance, subterfuge, above all pristinely, poetically choreographed; sculpted mobility transcends the graphic violence; there is grandeur and elegance in the pathos; this is filmmaking at its peak; Yimou’s masterful vision enchants, awes spectators.

Deng Chao stuns in his dual role as “Commander” and his doppelganger “Shadow”; as a child he is stolen from his mother because of his strong resemblance to the future leader; scripted by the diminished, dying “Ziyu”, the Shadow brings to fruition a plan to reclaim their lost land; intricacy, intrigue, wonderment inform the circuitous, intoxicating scenario. The trinity of protagonists is completed by the wife of Ziyu, “Madame”  (award winning, sublime performance by Sun Li); comfortable in the league of male martial artists, loved by and loving both men; a sanctified ménage à trois, modestly, mysteriously evolves, even the conclusion, eludes clarification.

The soul of “Shadow” is a fifteen minute extraordinary battle, shot in grey and black, amidst a cascading, intensely teeming wall of water; carnage abounds, bloody victims add color to the gloomy hue; balletic warriors, syncretized slayings, never has death, martyrdom been so gloriously lionized.





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