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Film Description
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Film Title:
The Banquet

Director: Feng Xiaogang
Country: China
Year: 2006
Language: Mandarin
Time: 131 minutes
Film Types: Colour/35mm
Rating: PG
The Banquet

Friday, September 15    6:30 PM    ROY THOMSON HALL  Buy tickets now
Saturday, September 16    12:00 PM    VISA SCREENING ROOM (ELGIN)  Buy tickets now

Production Company : Huayi Brothers Pictures 
Foreign Sales Agent : Media Asia Distribution Ltd. 

Executive Producer: Yuen Wo-Ping, Wang Zhonglei
Producer: Wang Zhongjun, John Chong
Screenplay: Sheng Heyu, Qiu Gangjian
Cinematographer: Zhang Li
Editor: Liu Miaomiao
Production Designer: Tim Yip
Sound: Wang Danrong
Music: Tan Dun
Principal Cast: Ziyi Zhang, Ge You, Daniel Wu, Zhou Xun, Huang Xiaoming

A sumptuous epic of courtly intrigue, royal usurpers and star-crossed love, Feng Xiaogang’s The Banquet is a beguiling, scintillating experience. Featuring the singularly steely frostiness of the stunning Ziyi Zhang, far and away one of the most dynamic actors of her generation, this lavish production recalls recent martial arts masterworks such as Hero or Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon but simultaneously evokes fiery historical dramas on the scale of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.” Feng is China’s most successful commercial director and he has assembled an incomparable team for this ambitious film. Composer Tan Dun, production designer Tim Yip and stunt director Yuen Wo-Ping (all Crouching Tiger alumni) are top in their fields – and so it is no surprise that every aspect of The Banquet is staggeringly gorgeous.

Zhang brings a most particular sangfroid to the role of Empress Wan, a young and beautiful woman whose skill with a sword is legendary in the nation. Wan is locked in a hollow marriage to the Emperor but harbours a devastating secret love for the introverted and melancholic Prince Wu Luan (played by Chinese idol Daniel Wu). Once her childhood sweetheart, Wu Luan is now her stepson. When the Emperor dies suddenly, his conniving younger brother Li (Ge You) assumes the throne. The savvy Wan immediately sees through Li’s murderous ambition and knows that Wu Luan’s days are numbered. In a calculated bid to save her love and maintain her own position, she concedes to marry Li, who has surreptitiously dispatched guards to assassinate his nephew.

The Banquet is set in tenth-century China, a tumultuous time of changing dynasties and border skirmishes, and a heady sense of impending doom fills the hallways and boudoirs of power like dark smoke. But all the external threat in the world will wreak less havoc on these royals than their own passions. This is a film about the desires – for power, for sex, for love – that propel individuals deeper and deeper into labyrinths of their own making. It grabs hold of us and we hurtle headlong through opulent conspiracies, flashing swords and bodies swirling in brilliantly choreographed combat and hidden embraces. This is heart-pounding cinema.

Feng Xiaogang was born in Beijing. He began his career designing dance performances before teaching art design at the Beijing Television Art Centre. He worked as a production designer and screenwriter of several influential Chinese features and as a television director before establishing himself as one of China’s most successful contemporary directors. His feature films include Gone Forever with My Love (94), The Dream Factory (97), Be There or Be Square (98), A Sigh (00), Big Shot’s Funeral (02), Cell Phone (03), A World Without Thieves (04) and The Banquet (06).
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