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Starring: Zhang Ziyi, Daniel Wu, Ge You, Zhou Xun
Director: Feng Xiaogang
Rating: NC-16 (Some Violence)
Year Made: 2006


- Trailer
- Teaser Trailer
- TV Spots
- The Making of
- Photo Gallery




Languages: Mandarin
Subtitles: Chinese & English
Aspect Ratio: 4:3 Letterbox
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1
Running Time: 2 hrs 11 mins
Region Code: 3
Distributor: InnoForm Media



When her brother-in-law, Li (starring Ge You) ascends the throne after the King’s death, Empress Wan (starring Zhang Ziyi) agrees to marry him in order to protect her step-son, Prince Wu Luan (starring Daniel Wu). Convinced that his uncle has murdered his father, the Prince Wu Luan decides to return to the palace and take revenge. Everything culminates in a night banquet where all hell break loose…


A sumptuous affair, The Banquet scores from the beginning with its appetizers till the dessert at the end. Following in the footsteps of its predecessors, The Banquet, inspired by William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, is a Chinese film of epic proportions. Sure, Hamlet has been adapted to the silver screen countless times by various talents like Mel Gibson and Ethan Hawke, but the plot is just as relevant and pertinent today as it was back in Shakespeare’s time, or in this instance, old China’s time.

Zhang Ziyi is Empress Wan, who has no choice but to marry her brother-in-law, Emperor Li (Ge You) who was usurped the throne from his brother. Prince Wu Luan (Daniel Wu), angered upon knowing Emperor Li had meant for him to be killed, seeks revenge for the death of his father. Further complicating the web is Qing Nu (Zhou Xun), the daughter of a General who loves Prince Wu Luan but has to fight for his feelings with Empress Wan who, too, has been long in love with her stepson before she married his late father.

The Banquet is a lavish spread through and through from its stellar acting to its subtly layered script to its resplendent sets and glorious music. It is hard to fault a film as such when the actors portray their respective characters with muted acting but leaving powerful impressions. Zhang Ziyi slips into the role of the Emperor Wan with utter menace and Zhou Xun balances the tandem with her subtle portrayal of Qing Nu who is naïve but vociferous. Ge You can rule China without lifting a finger and Daniel Wu is the son torn between revenge and love.

Director Feng Xiaogang’s vision of The Banquet is truly a cinematic wonderment which includes the hauntingly surreal opening of the Empress walking towards her coronation ceremony and also, the brutal massacre of the theatre performers. The music by Academy Award winner, Tan Dun complements the film fully and reaches the heavens above in ensuring that it holds the film. The Banquet is a satisfying feast for your visual, hearing and sensory pleasure.


The DVD consists of the token features like a photo gallery and trailers/teasers. The only highlight worth mentioning is The Making Of featurette. I believe it provided a comprehensive look behind the scenes of such a beautiful film. Unfortunately, I could not understand what was being said as the featurette sorely lacks English subtitles. A poor decision considering it already has bare bones special features.


The audio is in Dolby Digital 5.1 and adequately brings out Tan Dun's lush score (which is reviewed here). The transfer is rich enough to show the dark tones and also the richness of the set designs.



Review by Mohamad Shaifulbahri



Alternative Opinion:

. The movie review by our columnist

THE BANQUET Press Conference:

. Ask The Star: Daniel Wu

Other titles from Innoform:

. Forbidden Siren

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. 4:30

. My Name Is Fame

. Letter

. Born to Fight

. Lizard Woman

. Chai-Lai Angels

. Helen the Baby Fox

. Love Asia

. The Commitment

. The Story of X-Circle

. Beautiful, Wonderful, Perfect

. Hit Man


This review is made possible with the kind support from InnoForm


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