Synopsis by Clarke Fountain
In the twisty, labyrinthine world of politics, the word "Byzantine" conjures up an especially subtle world of shady alliances, betrayals, intrigues, murders and treachery. However, there should be some special word to describe the politics of late Imperial China, which multiplied the complexities we attribute to the Byzantines many-fold. Among the players of the game, no group of men were better versed in its intricacies than the Imperial Eunuchs. In this story, Li Lianying (Jiang Wen) is a confidential advisor to the feisty, but very narrow-minded, dowager empress (Liu Xiaoqing) at the time of the Boxer Rebellion. His goal is to help her keep her throne and to ensure the continuation of Imperial rule. At one point, the haughty empress must flee the palace and take refuge incognito in an ordinary person's home, enduring unpleasant comments about the royal family in the process. By her manners and her grooming, it was evident to her hosts that she was some sort of noblewoman, but they would have been appalled to know she was the empress herself.
China, political-corruption, political-crisis, political-intrigue, political-power
High Production Values