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Directed by Zhang Yimou

China, Hong Kong 2018 116 mins. In Mandarin with subtitles

Zhang’s return to the wuxia (martial arts epic) genre also marks an important return to form for the veteran director, delivering a film that feels wholly in line with previous action-packed masterpieces like Hero and House of Flying Daggers. Utilizing a wonderfully desaturated palette marked by heavy use of black, grey, white, and (naturally) blood red, Shadow tells the tale of two clashing warlords mired in a land dispute, complete with requisite palace intrigue, pitched battles, vicious backstabbing of the political and marital sorts, and some of the most stunning Chinese zither battles ever committed to film. Featuring tightly coiled, pitch-perfect acting by the ensemble cast and stunningly gorgeous sets and cinematography, Shadow is an exciting new entry in the wuxia canon. “The cinema of ‘show me something I’ve never seen before, and make it heart-stoppingly beautiful’ has in Shadow a new title for its pantheon.” —Jessica Kiang, Variety.

Filmography: Red Sorghum (1988), Raise the Red Lantern (1991), The Story of Qiu Ju (1992), To Live (1994), Not One Less (1999), Hero (2002), House of Flying Daggers (2004), Curse of the Golden Flower (2006), Flowers of War (2011), Coming Home (2014)

Content warning: scenes of intense, graphic violence

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