Metascore
75

Generally favorable reviews - based on 25 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 19 out of 25
  2. Negative: 1 out of 25
  1. Few Hollywood action pictures are half as exciting or ravishing.
  2. Everything about its scale is epic.
  3. This multistoried historical plot is packed with almost three hours of nuances and hidden meanings, and the slippery smiles and sly innuendoes often seem lost in translation.
  4. A stirring, thought-provoking feat of filmmaking, accomplished in every facet.
  5. A stunner -- as big and messy as a war, as small and perfect as a diamond.
  6. This is a powerful story and a splendid spectacle.
  7. Has a mixture of strengths and limitations often found in historical epics: lots of eye-filling action and spectacle, little in the way of psychology or human interest.
  8. Based on the true story of the first emperor of unified China, could be downsized and told as an American Western.
  9. It's a more intelligent and dimensional epic than, say, "Anna and the King." Emperor is worth every single penny.
  10. Reviewed by: Jay Carr
    88
    As savage and as epic as film gets.
  11. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    80
    The sheer size of the production dwarfs the human drama.
  12. 80
    For those with a taste for epics that integrate the historical and the intimate.
  13. 80
    It's epic in every sense of the word, and like most of Chen's historical dramas, not easy to follow.
  14. The look of the film is first class, with muted colors but deep textures, the opposite of historical kitsch.
  15. Crammed with enough melodrama to fill several soap operas.
  16. Reviewed by: Derek Elley
    70
    A string of striking set pieces hung on a dramatically shaky clothesline.
  17. Quite long and violent enough to have made several critics squirm in their seats during a recent press screening.
  18. Meanders along in a confused, confusing way for what feels like hours.
  19. A gorgeous, gory epic, is a blow-your-mind masterpiece about the emperor who ruled more than 2,000 years ago.
  20. 60
    Solid middlebrow entertainment, a vast period epic with an almost DeMillean taste for excess.
  21. Reviewed by: Gemma Files
    60
    It's sumptuous, archaic, and longer than a firehouse ladder.
  22. A historical drama as static as it is stately.
  23. 50
    A bit hard on the posterior, it is definitely easy on the eyes.
  24. 47
    Strains our patience with overacting and photography so sumptuous you can't help but ponder why so much bloodshed and mayhem is being so expertly prettified.
  25. A quagmire that reportedly has undergone multiple edits to reach its current incomprehensible state.

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