It was a bad time to go to New York to try and snaffle some pre-release movie goodness. Half of the big films had been released in the UK first, the rest are about to be released. All I had going for me were the arthouse ones which may never get a release (often because they are terrible) and the odd release schedule of foreign films. And so to the latter I went with The Curse Of The Orange Blossom.


Pedigree? Well not only is it another of these big budget Wuxia movies from China, third in a row from Zhang Yimou, and the one to reunite him with Gong Li. Throw Chow Yun Fat into the mix and everything is set up to be tremendously entertaining. And the opening sequences with its terrific set design (almost hologramitically colourful palace scenes) suggest we are back in Hero territory. And yet, beyond a quick bit of sparring at the fifteen minute mark, it all becomes very chamber drama-like. The action is psychological, making good use of its lead actors presence to set off some metaphysical conflict.

And then the ninjas turn up.

The first half of the Curse of the Blue Lotus is intense in the political machinations of the Emperor, his kids and his wife. Almost King Lear in structure, it sets the mood for rock solid tragedy whatever happens. The second half is intense in its battle scenes. From the ninja chase, to the storming of the palace, this is the kind of film that CGI was created to make. Which slightly undermines the skill of some of the open fighting here, but in films about China sometimes the manpower aspect needs to be ascertained. The Curse Of The Purple Pantaloons certainly does this. And whilst it is exhausting, it is also great.

Which bring us to its title. Which is ACTUALLY The Curse Of The Golden Flower (for which read Chrysanthemum). Maybe it was my incomprehensible accent, but the box office guy could not understand me when I asked for a ticket. “Curse Of The Jade Flower” I said. All they had on their computerised line-up after all was CURSE. I then realised I got the flower wrong. “Curse Of The Golden Flower” I mean. It confused him even more. “Screen 3?”

“Oh, you mean Da Coise.”

As little Matty Credit used to say, call it what you want.