Director: Feng Xiaogang
Starring: Zhang Ziyi, Ge You, Daniel Wu, Zhou
RunTime: 2 hrs 11 mins
Released By: Shaw
Official website: www.thebanquetthemovie.com
Opening Day: 15 Sept 2006
OUR INTERVIEW WITH DANIEL WU - STAR OF "THE BANQUET"
When her brother-in-law ascends the throne after the King’s
death, the Queen agrees to marry him in order to protect her
stepson. Convinced that his uncle has murdered his father,
the Prince decides to return to the palace and take revenge.
Everything culminates in a night banquet where all hell will
Loosely based on Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the Banquet has
all the potential plot devices to engage the viewers emotionally
but ultimately squanders it off without achieving any arousing
performance or any climatic finale.
the prince (Daniel Wu) whose father, the emperor, had just
died a questionable death and the chief suspect, the prince’s
uncle (Ge You), who is going to be the next Emperor will be
marrying the late Emperor’s Queen (Zhang Ziyi). The
bit that differs from the classic Hamlet would be that the
Queen was once the Prince’s lover before the late Emperor
took her as his wife. And if that’s not complicated
enough, a General’s daughter (Zhou Xun) who was supposed
to be engaged with Prince now finds herself in the midst of
a struggle for love and power.
anchor for this film would most definitely be the internationally
renowned and well-loved actress Zhang Ziyi. Her role as the
Gerturude (of Hamlet) inspired character saw an interesting
twist to the classic. Such a hotly debated incestuous relationship
has made its way into The Banquet. Zhang Ziyi has handled
love triangle roles before (House of Flying Dagger) and she
continues in this movie. Viewers witness her ability to display
arrogance and vulnerability in this show, continuing her fine
accolade of performances in this portrayal of the power hungry
Queen who is being manipulated by the circumstances in the
palace. But one seeking for another breakthrough performance
from her will be disappointed.
role as “Hamlet” in the Banquet, Daniel Wu achieved
what Orlando Bloom did for Kingdom of Heaven. In a way, both
good looking guys did well enough to carry their characters
off but simply lacked of the extra oomph to give their characters
that extra edge to make it memorable. The characterization
of the Prince was significantly cut down to a supporting role
which denied Daniel Wu the chance to push his character to
its full potential.
were earlier reports of laughers during the dramatic scenes
featuring Ge You in China preview. While local viewers might
not be familiar with Ge You’s comedic performance of
the past, his portrayal as the unscrupulous usurper was adequate
and believable. Viewers are only treated to Ge You’s
underhanded methods in taking over the throne and the Queen
but not rewarded with King Claudius’s capable manner
of running the country or his remorse for his actions which
significantly remove the possibility of the range of dimension
of this character.
that really stole the show would be Zhou Xun. She has the
most limited amount of scenes in this movie as the unwanted
lover, yet she draws out the most emotional bits of the film
as the lovelorn girl who dares to defy the King for her love.
What is more, as evident in “Perhaps Love”, this
talented actress also got the vocal capabilities to impress
as she belted out one song during this movie.
the plot devices and credible actors that are poised to win
viewers over, there were the top notch production set, cinematography,
music and action sequences which by themselves are worth the
admission tickets. The production and the cinematography invokes
a sense of awe and “Zen”-ness to the film. These
two aspects of the film are definitely worthy of taking part
in contention for the best production and cinematography during
the next Oscars.
and Yuen Wo Ping’s trademark in their respective field
of expertise are felt and thoroughly enjoyed, however, it
doesn’t really seem to add value to the film. In one
of the supposedly more emotional scenes where the actor was
pouring out their heartfelt lines with the lush Tan Dun’s
track playing in the background drumming for sadness, the
viewers could only see and hear but does not feel what the
combination of the trio were attempting.
the action choreography is a delight to watch, however, one
can’t help but wonder if it was derailing the film.
In this drama intense movie, does the action element work
well or even go with the flow of this film? Sadly, in a way,
it became a stumbling block for this film to build up on its
all the richest ingredients in this world, perhaps the fault
lies in the executing of the fire in the brewing of all the
elements together in this film. The director’s previous
film, World without Thieves, was made with a smaller budget,
less fanciful sets but with only the heart left one wanting
for more. It’s sad to see that Feng Xiao Gang is unable
to follow suit in a lethal combination where everything else
is present but the most prominent essence: the heart of the
as the next China nomination for the Academy Awards Best foreign
language award even before the completion of the film, The
Banquet will most likely not achieve the ovation that Hero
received during its nomination but will definitely fare better
than The Promise and House of Flying Daggers.
banquet boosts lavish production, credible actors, and spectacular
fight sequences but ultimately left viewers emotionally starved)
Review by Richard Lim Jr