Generally favorable reviews - based on 32 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 23 out of 32
  2. Negative: 1 out of 32
  1. It's a work by cinematic geniuses that reveals beauty and terror in a long-ago time with a virtuoso intensity. You won't soon forget its mad, lovely sights and sounds.
  2. A dazzling costume epic, a spectacle for the eyes and for the soul.
  3. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    This is high, and high-wire, melodrama. It's less soap opera than grand opera, where matters of love and death are played at a perfect fever pitch. And grand this Golden Flower is.
  4. 90
    Another remarkable chapter in the career of Asia's most important living filmmaker. After "Pan's Labyrinth," this is the movie to see this season.
  5. A period spectacle, steeped in awesome splendor and lethal palace intrigue, it climaxes in a stupendous battle scene and epic tragedy.
  6. Zhang Yimou's Curse of the Golden Flower is a kind of feast, an over-the-top, all-stops-pulled-out lollapalooza that means to play kitschy and grand at once.
  7. 88
    It's a lavish entertainment that revels in lurid colors and yet more lurid emotions.
  8. Since his debut in 1987 with "Red Sorghum" Mr. Zhang has made more controlled films but never one that's more fun. With Curse of the Golden Flower he aims for Shakespeare and winds up with Jacqueline Susann. And a good thing too.
  9. 75
    The final effect is stunning, but also sadly impersonal.
  10. 75
    But as Western analogies go, Curse achieves an emotional fervor more in keeping with ancient Greek mythology than Elizabethan theater.
  11. Chinese director Zhang Yimou has made some of the most beautiful movies of the last 20 years, and with his latest, Curse of the Golden Flower, he has also made one of the most deliciously nutty.
  12. Like a soap opera, but most of what glitters is gold.
  13. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    The Curse of the Golden Flower is the year's most operatic and visually lavish film.
  14. 75
    Director Zhang Yimou's ambitious attempt to blend martial arts action with Shakespearean melodrama. It's not a perfect marriage but it offers two hours of solidly over-the-top entertainment featuring incredible visuals and powerful performances by international icons Gong Li and Chow Yun Fat.
  15. Reviewed by: Stephen Saito
    Action fans might find the film's first half somewhat of a slog to sit through because of its carefully honed exposition, while those used to Zhang's dialogue-heavy dramas are sure to be surprised by the film's brutal second half where blood spurts more than the words.
  16. 75
    There are fine actors at work here. Chow is quiet and cunning, Gong Li is haughty and cold-eyed, Chen Jin is sturdy as a ghost who appears out of the past, and Gin Junjie is vividly bratty as the youngest, and most underappreciated, prince.
  17. It's more theatrical pageant than action movie, with the showy but rudimentary martial-arts action coming off like just another ritual with the players going through the motions.
  18. Reviewed by: Rob Nelson
    Like his "Hero" and "House of Flying Daggers," Zhang Yimou's third global-market gigaproduction makes little sense in narrative terms even after two screenings, but the sets, costumes, and cinematography are so intoxicating that it doesn't much matter.
  19. Curse of the Golden Flower is a watchable soap opera, but its marching-band martial-arts scenes are little more than weakly staged retreads of the ones in Zhang's "Hero."
  20. 67
    Few filmmakers could produce so grand a spectacle, but Zhang used to be good for more than just eye candy.
  21. 63
    As easy as this movie is to watch, it's artificially flavored. "Golden Flower" runs on crocodile tears and corn-syrup blood.
  22. This colour-drunk, sumptuous late Tang Dynasty (928 AD) drama is huge on spectacle but as devoid of delight as a Cecil B. DeMille biblical epic.
  23. Reviewed by: Ian Nathan
    Imagine "The Lion In Winter" set at a Kylie gig. You can have too much of a good thing, but it is a good thing.
  24. 60
    In the end, Curse also looks alarmingly like a dry run for the opening and closing ceremonies Zhang has been hired to direct for the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008.
  25. Reviewed by: Robert Koehler
    Zhang Yimou's strangest and most troubled film, abounds in hysterical, mannered Tang Dynasty-era palace intrigue and dehumanized CGI battle sequences.
  26. 50
    Curse of the Golden Flower could also be called "Curse of 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.' " In other words, it is yet another attempt to cash in on the success of Ang Lee's 2000 martial-arts epic, which will go down in the history books as one of the most overrated films of the decade.
  27. I can say only three good things about his latest martial arts picture, the incoherent The Curse of the Golden Flower: 1) Gong Li deserves better roles, 2) The costumes are astonishingly beautiful, and 3), how about those costumes!
  28. Reviewed by: Josh Rosenblatt
    To question that this movie is a visual feast would be an act of real cynicism. But as the old Chinese proverb goes, "Gold and jade on the outside, rot and decay on the inside."
  29. 50
    In Curse of the Golden Flower, Zhang Yimou tries to top the breathtaking poetic spectacle of his masterpiece, "House of Flying Daggers," and instead plummets into self-parody.
  30. The movie has plenty to engage one's interest but little to sustain it.
  31. Reviewed by: Phil Hall
    Zhang Yimou is seriously off his game with the utterly ridiculous Curse of the Golden Flower, a new epic that feels like "Hero" meets "The Lion in Winter" meets "Peyton Place." The film is worthless as a serious work of art, but it may offer the jaded viewer a surplus source of MST3K-inspired wisecracks.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 85 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 26 out of 39
  2. Negative: 6 out of 39
  1. Feb 6, 2012
    As expected with Chinese films the use of colour is simply breathtaking, almost like a piece of art in itself. The same can be said of theAs expected with Chinese films the use of colour is simply breathtaking, almost like a piece of art in itself. The same can be said of the style and scale of the film. It really does feel epic in every sense of the word. This fails to hide the fact the storyline is kind of basic and predictable, I only have issue with this because fight scenes are incredibly few and far between. I think people expect to see martial arts in Chinese films and this is maybe unfair but the film just doesn't help itself. As usual for Chinese stuff the film comes with a fair degree of cheese, I put this down to cultural differences but it will scare viewers not used to Chinese films. As always the ending is unhappy which I've always adored in Chinese films. It's surely worth a watch but don't expect to be blown away. Full Review »
  2. Sep 12, 2011
    I could've sworn tears were coming out of my eyes when I was watching this. Tears of embarrassment to be precise! While the costumes in theI could've sworn tears were coming out of my eyes when I was watching this. Tears of embarrassment to be precise! While the costumes in the film are pretty, the acting is terrible and the story is very, very lame! But the worst part was the fighting scene between the King's army and Prince's army. At that point the embarrassment has escalated to severe goosebumps. It is utterly humiliating because this film was shown internationally.. WHY?!! It's an awful piece of work by Zhang Yimou. Full Review »
  3. Sylocat
    Aug 17, 2008
    To say that the visual aesthetic of this film is stunning would be the understatement of the century; this movie is so gorgeous that it To say that the visual aesthetic of this film is stunning would be the understatement of the century; this movie is so gorgeous that it almost deserves a viewing on the big screen for that alone, and the battle sequences are among the most epic in the history of wuxia movies. That said, the story of the film is a stunning exemplification of every problem I have with wuxia movies. The overblown symbolism, the soap-opera plot, and the ending so pointlessly depressing that you could almost picture the writer(s) laying awake in bed at night trying to think up the method to cynically jerk the most tears out of the pretentious art-film audience. The emperor in this case is so cartoonishly sadistic that I found myself thinking, "Surely they wouldn't go to all this trouble to hammer into us how evil this guy is without planning to dethrone him in the end," but sure enough, they did exactly that, because having the powerful remain in power and the rebellious characters die is an ingrained staple of this genre, and the moment I realized they were in fact going to do that (about a half-hour short of the finish line), I felt like turning it off in disgust. They raised our hopes at the very end again, only to dash them. Now that's a metaphor for the movie. Full Review »