Not only poisons galore enough to delight the heart of the darkest assassins but along with her various venomous schemes, a certain queen biatch also stabbed my upstanding dream husband in the neck with her womanly weapon.
Don't panic before I've had a chance to explain. No worries, kind souls, Charming Calvin remains in the pinkest of health with no near fatal wounds on his neck apart from some unsightly teeth marks.
Feng Xiaogang's latest martial arts blockbuster, The Banquet, is a loose adaptation of the perennial favourite tale of the tragic princeling Hamlet - transplanting the story to ancient China in unstable times after the Emperor has been murdered and the throne usurped by his brother. The ever-luscious and suspiciously fey Daniel Wu plays the sadly diminished pivotal role of the doomed Crown Prince Wuluan while Zhang Ziyi takes on the role of a lifetime as the passionate, duplicitous Empress Wan who surrenders everything to protect her power, her position and the man she loves.
What can I say? As usual with all the up-and-coming Chinese directors, the sets are lavishly decorated ( with candlestands I wouldn't mind having in my home! ), the cinematography is visually opulent ( not to mention liberally sprayed with copious amounts of blood ) and the score is hypnotic. Unfortunately there are almost no sympathetic characters in the movie ( and Zhang Ziyi unfortunately not suitably diva-esque enough to carry off the plum role of the Empress ), and it's nearly a relief when most of their plans turn hopelessly awry during the inauspicious banquet.
My dream husband...
Yet the memorable part of the whole film - apart from watching Zhang Ziyi try her best, and ultimately fail, to weave her delicate web of deceit and treachery - is a mini cameo by the deliciously yummy Huang Xiaoming ( hereby referred to as my dream husband ) who plays the ambitious, upstanding General Yin who finds himself irrevocably drawn into the subtle intrigues of court. Hell, the man can make a shapeless gunny sack look good - what more the delicious armour of an imperial guard. Huang Xiaoming can certainly arrest me, clap me in chains and torture me with melted candles anytime.
Unfortunately the mean queen biatch I mentioned had to do the stabbing thing.
During the movie, Calvin and I concluded that I must have spent one of my fascinating past lives as a conniving Chinese concubine who schemed her wicked, wily way into the imperial court whilst coolly poisoning her numerous unfortunate enemies - not to mention secretly manipulating / romancing babealicious generals such as my dream husband above. Only made sense since I predicted almost all the evil Empress' moves. No doubt in that iniquitous past life I must have reached an untimely end since karmic redemption - and surprisingly judgemental Chinese cinema - would deem it so.
A Shanghai triad hoodlum and now a scheming court jezebel? Not sure why I am always typecast in such roles! Wonder what Calvin would have been in that past life? Possibly one of the unfortunate goody-two-shoes courtiers I secretly stabbed with my trusty yet painfully sharp hairpin?