Theme Depth: ★★★★
Uniqueness of Plot: ★★★★
Technical Elements: ★★★
Long story short, only person surviving is the "heir to the throne," hidden from the military general for years. There he is raised for the sole purpose of eventually taking his revenge.
This is interestingly enough, almost a story of the secondary characters. You begin with a growing hatred of the initial characters, only to find yourself enraptured and empathizing with the secondary actors. Cheng Ying, the doctor, is technically what I would call the primary character, but you can feel from the film that his story was always secondary to anyone else's. That is his problem ~ no one sees or cares about his loss because protecting the prince is far more important. It is strange how they so beautifully pull his story ( and his soldier friend's) through so subtly. It is clear that everyone else ignores them because they are meant to be secondary. But all along, they were the true leads. It is an interesting dichotomy.
One of the things I like about the story's theme is that it is a little bit of a guy's film. There are two women who play important roles, but they are not the centerpiece. It's basically a story about men who go different ways in life ~ some to become good; others to become bad~ as well as the passions that drive them. So when I say it is a guy's film, I'm not talking about "action" and "adventure" as much as the fact that it is the story of men and what they can become. It's truly very touching.
Technicality-wise, some of the scenes were a little chopped together, but there was enough beauty and creativity in others to bring its rating up. There are certain places where the music and style is just amazing when compared to the scene, and they did a wonderful job with the dramatic scenes. I particularly like the way they handled the scroll scene where he tells his story on the scroll and it comes to life.
Of course, it never hurts with me when the guys are hot, and Xiaoming Huang is gorgeous :) I will definitely be watching out for more from him.