Earlier this year I saw Shadow, my very first film by Zhang Yimou, and I thought it was tedious and quite boring. When I found out my local cinema was going to show Raise the Red Lantern on 35mm, I figured it was a good opportunity to check out more of his movies, and see if they are more to my liking.
Ju Dou (1990)
One I enjoyed right of the bat. Nice use of almost entirely one single setting. Good pacing of a story spanning several years.
Nominated for Best Foreign Language Film (China) in 1991.
Raise the Red Lantern (1991)
Not quite as enjoyable as Ju Dou, but still very good. It’s apparent that Zhang Yimou has a skill for fleshing out every corner of the films location. This, as Ju Dou, takes place in one setting for the most part.
Nominated for Best Foreign Language Film (Hong Kong) in 1992.
Shanghai Triad (1995)
Zhang Yimou branches out. Going from one setting, to two settings. I enjoyed this very much. The second half on a remote island was the best part.
Nominated for Best Cinematography in 1996.
This is a movie I never wanted to see because I was so tired of wirework martial arts movie after what I thought was a underwhelming Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. In this, it works really well. Maybe it is because if has been almost two decades since the wireworks craze was, and some distance has done me more perceptible to it. The storytelling is interesting too, very much like Rashomon in a way.
Nominated for Best Foreign Language Film (China) in 2003.
House of Flying Daggers (2004)
Kind of sappy, but I still enjoyed it quite a bit. Yes, the cinematography is good, but it suffers from the use of contrast boost that was very common during the 2000’s, as does Hero and Golden Flower. It makes the movies look very dated.
Nominated for Best Achievement in Cinematography in 2005.
Curse of the Golden Flower (2006)
This had the same impact for me as Shadow did. Very slow, and almost uninspired in its storytelling. I had a hard time focusing on conversations. CGI combat scenes did not look good. Pretty much a chore to get through, even though the actors are doing a solid job, and the story is descent.
Nominated for Best Achievement in Costume Design in 2007.