Fifth about The Seventh

Shadow (Ying)

Shadow: Zhang Yimou, in this period film, tells a very traditional story, of warring kingdoms and palatial intrigue, of power plays and duplicity. It is surprisingly low-key and engaging, even if it covers no new ground and it can be slow at times; the characters are mostly quite simple and don’t really go through a meaningful journey. What makes the film stand out, however, is its aesthetics: for the most part, the only colors seen are the human skin and blood, everything else is black, white, or a shade of gray. There is no loss to the richness of the craft, however. Chen Min Zheng’s costumes are rich, beautiful to look at, and no less detailed because of their limitations. The same can be said about Kwong Wing Ma’s production design. Everything is captured by the elegant camerawork of cinematographer Xiaoding Zhao, including the well-choreographed fight scenes. Acting can become hammy at times; Deng Chao creates two characters, one dignified and the other unhinged, and they look very different due to the make-up work, but more importantly, the physicality he creates for each of them.

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