User Score
7.0

Generally favorable reviews- based on 5 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 4 out of 5
  2. Negative: 0 out of 5
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  1. [Anonymous]
    Aug 30, 2002
    7
    Endlessly impressive, but the pacing is uneven; would have been better as a miniseries maybe.
  2. YoonM.
    Sep 29, 2003
    7
    The First Emperor. The beginning 50 minutes unfold masterfully, as genuine historical epic. Then it adds another character in the form of a redemptive assassin. This leads to a silly love triangle, and then when Emperor Chin goes from bad to worse, the plot piles up into something like a tossed bowl full of court intrigues, assassination plot, betrayals more numerous than all the people The First Emperor. The beginning 50 minutes unfold masterfully, as genuine historical epic. Then it adds another character in the form of a redemptive assassin. This leads to a silly love triangle, and then when Emperor Chin goes from bad to worse, the plot piles up into something like a tossed bowl full of court intrigues, assassination plot, betrayals more numerous than all the people in China, and so on until it resembles some bad Chinese cooking made with leftovers. Even the epic elements, so grand and thrilling early on, are repeated almost exactly ad nauseaum. Do all Chinese battles look alike? The role of Emperor is filled by some squeaky voiced twerp and the assassin guy looks like he'd rather star in a Hong Kong movie. Gong Li is beautiful as always but her performance loses luster as the movie loses focus but by then she's the last of the its problems. Also, just how these principal characters keep bumping into eachother in that huge empire is downright befuddling? Talk about coincidence. Still, the first 50 minutes can match any great historical epic pound for pound, or frame for frame. It's sweeping and magnificent, a grand entry into this fascinating world of ancient China. It's the extended tour that grows weary. Finally, the movie makes a powerful statement about the role of blood in politics, or what is known as the fusion of familism and governance in Chinese tradition. One genuinely great scene involves Emperor Chin confronting his true father, and the revelation suggests how even this powerful ruthless man is a victim of forces beyond his control, not only a tyrant but a cowering, lonely little man. Collapse
  3. PatC.
    Jan 29, 2007
    7
    Long & sometimes hard to follow, but worthwhile.
  4. Banshee
    May 17, 2003
    10
    Impressive and little over-emotional like most asian movies of that kind. It stuns you for hours.
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. A historical drama as static as it is stately.
  2. Quite long and violent enough to have made several critics squirm in their seats during a recent press screening.
  3. Based on the true story of the first emperor of unified China, could be downsized and told as an American Western.