China, Later Tang Dynasty, 10th Century.
On the eve of the Chong Yang Festival, golden flowers fill
the Imperial Palace. The EMPEROR (Chow Yun Fat) returns
unexpectedly with his second son, PRINCE JAI (Jay Chou). His
pretext is to celebrate the holiday with his family, but
given the chilled relations between the Emperor and the
ailing EMPRESS (Gong Li), this seems disingenuous.
For many years, the Empress and CROWN PRINCE WAN (Liu
Ye), her stepson, have had an illicit liaison. Feeling
trapped, Prince Wan dreams of escaping the palace with his
secret love CHAN (Li Man), the Imperial Doctor’s daughter.
Meanwhile, Prince Jai, the faithful son, grows worried over
the Empress’s health and her obsession with golden
chrysanthemums. Could she be headed down an ominous path?
The Emperor harbors equally clandestine plans; the IMPERIAL
DOCTOR (NI DAHONG) is the only one privy to his
machinations. When the Emperor senses a looming threat, he
relocates the doctor’s family from the Palace to a remote
While they are en route, mysterious assassins attack them.
Chan and her mother, JIANG SHI (Chen Jin) are forced back to
the palace. Their return sets off a tumultuous sequence of
Amid the glamour and grandeur of the festival, ugly secrets
are revealed. As the Imperial Family continues its elaborate
charade in a palatial setting, thousands of golden armored
warriors charge the palace. Who is behind this brutal
rebellion? Where do Prince Jai’s loyalties lie? Between love
and desire, is there a final winner?
Against a moonlit night, thousands of chrysanthemum blossoms
are trampled as blood spills across the Imperial Palace.
2006 Sony Classics. . All rights reserved.
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