What a fantastic film. The Chinese action feature, 'Shadow', is one of the better action movies of recent time. We are talking some of the best action set pieces. Just tremendous with wonderful intense visuals. Light on dialogue, but big on heart, it's smart and has a slow burn with a climax that should have the engaged viewer mesmerized. It is a little bit hard to follow and perhaps the first act is a bit slow, but those are the only flaws I can find with a fine film! Final Score: 9.1/10
4.5 of 5 stars
A movie with a lot of twists. An epic action drama story surrounded by a lot of unknowns that keeps on invested until the end.
If I'd live in the same age as the movie I have not doubt that my life would be like that.
In summary, a great movie with an intense ending.
4 of 5 stars
In what could be considered the third film in his unofficial wuxia trilogy, (Hero and House of the Flying Daggers) Chinese director Zhang Yimou wipes the memory of big-budget Hollywood disappointment The Great Wall and returns to his inimitable strengths with the delicate and eye-watering Shadow.
Let's be clear, no article is going to sufficiently convey the beautiful artistry in this film. It's as deep as the darkest ink. It's a film you sink into. The visuals astound from the start, every frame a feast of greys and blacks, deliberately inspired by the inky brush strokes of traditional Chinese paintings. When you see a Zhang film you expect exotic costumes, a thousand trees and elaborate sets that burst of the screen like exploding skittles. Shadow distinguishes itself, from everything, by flying in the opposite direction. In his remarkable return to form, the director significantly slows down the pace and darkens the room. Its effect is immediately apparent. This is a quieter film – one that operates in the shadows. When the violence does begin, its impact is intensified and more symbolic because the only other colour in the film is crimson. When everything seems delicately balanced with black and grey hues, the sudden appearance of violence dirties the sets, and they're almost desecrated by the spilling of blood.
Shadow begins with a few lines of text awkwardly setting up the story of the famous Jing City and the warring factions fighting for its control. We're thrust into the film on the brink of a shattering piece. King of Pei (Ryan Zheng) doesn't want another war and flies into tantrums whenever his court defies him. No less than five minutes in, he's informed by a royal servant that his Commander (Chao Deng) has been secretly duelling current ruler of Jing City, General Yang (Jun Hu), a fierce warrior that nobody can defeat. To counter this and peacefully gain a way back into controlling the city, the king offers his sister Princess Qingping (Guan Xiaotong) as a bride for General Yang's son, only to be rudely spurned in favour of her becoming his concubine. Princess Quinping is not happy and the fallout of this insult is satisfying. Xiaotong Guan's role is small at first, but she grows into to the film and leaves a bigger brush stroke than her male stars. To make matters more complicated, the king's commander isn't even his real commander, and is instead a deliberate decoy from the real commander (both played by Chao Deng) injured and dying from his battle with Yang, scheming a rebellion beneath the royal chambers. The only people that know are the false commander, named Jing after the city, and the real commander's wife, Madam (Sun Li).
It's a convoluted set up, and you definitely feel it drag as Zhang sets all this up for almost forty or fifty minutes of the film, moving between different rooms in the royal chamber and revealing the relationships of all the major players. It's the filming equivalent of watching chess pawns take up their positions. You might be left wondering where all the action is and subsequently left disappointed when it only amounts to one major scene and a few splatters of blood in the film's somewhat subdued third act. If you like political intrigue it might not be bother, but for those expecting a more action packed epic akin to Hero, this is is not it. Nevertheless, it's all intriguing because the acting is good, although sometimes heightened towards pantomime. Sun Li as Madam is especially good as the conflicted wife of the Commander, put into an impossible position of faking a marriage with the impostor whilst actually falling in love with him at the expense of her heart and dying husband.
Full review at: https://reelrunner.wordpress.com/2020/01/19/shadow-2019-review-zhang-yimou-returns-to-ravishing-form-in-monochrome-epic/
3 of 5 stars
Typical of the Wuxia style, Shadow gets credit for the remarkable clothing and battle gear as well as the stylish aspects of color and contrast used. However, acting is often mediocre to bad, and the switching from color to muted to b&w just seems gimmicky after a while rather than bold cinematic choices. The fight scenes were competent, the story line, though, was a tired rehash.
3.5 of 5 stars
After a bit of an embarrassment with ‘The Great Wall', Yimou Zhang is back with another Wuxia epic that has some inventive fight scenes, as well as his signature flair added to the visuals, this time doing something very different from what we usually see from him (colourful, vibrant imagery) by going with a charcoal colour scheme that makes it an absolute feast for the eyes.
It falls a bit short on the story side with overly confusing elements that aren't very well explained and character arcs that don't affect you the way they have in his previous works. Nevertheless, when it looks and sounds this good, it's difficult not to marvel.
3.5 of 5 stars
Gorgeous grayscale cinematography is the highlight of this high quality Chinese martial arts drama. This film looks like a charcoal painting in motion.
2 of 5 stars
didnt like the style in which this film followed. action was good but the acting was shaky and had weird random moments without really explaining why they were doing what they were doing.
4 of 5 stars
Superb art direction and beautifully choreograph with innovative fights. And more twists and turns that you can shake a fist at.
4 of 5 stars
Shadow is certainly beautifully filmed with meticulously constructed visuals, and with inventive and balletic fight choreography. There is not much to the overarching plot, a duel of honor between two military commanders over control of a city, while other men make power moves behinds the scenes. But the real heroes are the 2 women, treated like pawns in men's games, while they shoulder the true burden of honor. They are the the forgotten Yin living as Yang's shadows, but the film slyly gives them the real strength. It's a movie that's quietly, subtly, yet proudly so very feminist, it's almost a magicians trick.
4 of 5 stars
Shadow is a breathtaking visual feat, with incredible stylized action scenes and unique story telling. The story can get a bit muddled and be a little tedious to get through the first hour of expository setup. However, the film springs to life in the second half, giving us a rollercoaster of fun action and twisting turns. All while presenting us gorgeous cinematography and graceful symbolic themes.