For my first HIFF film, I watched Shadow, a Chinese (spoken in Mandarin) historical film, directed by Zhang Yimou, which covers the time period of the Three Kingdoms (AD 220-280) ruled by Pei, a young tyrannical ruler, along with his honest yet devious commander and a spy devise deceitful plans while war rages through their kingdom, which acts as his “shadow”. I was very fortunate that I had the time to watch this film since it was filmed on opening night and all I have to say is that it is definitely worth watching! In fact, I think it now has to be one of my (if not, the) most favorite film(s) that I have ever watched.
First off, my favorite thing that I like while I was watching Shadow was the color scheme as it is was predominately black and white possibly because of the inspirations of either the yin-and-yang symbol, the ink brush painting/Chinese calligraphy, or a combination of both. It even matched the weather since it was cloudy and rainy in every scene of the film. Despite the monochromatic yet beautiful color scheme, I really like how there were hints of color in few scenes from the green bamboo to the red blood during war time. Another component I really enjoyed was the slow motion parts, especially the scenes where the actors used the Pei umbrellas for preparing and during battle as well as the actors running through the rain. The umbrellas that they used prior to the war scene, to me, made a wonderful sound that I found satisfying, whereas the other umbrellas they used during the war was totally unexpected as I was surprised on how they were used as weapons/shields.
Overall, if you want to watch a film where it delves into a lot of history yet provides wonderful action scenes, this is definitely your go-to film to watch. It was also inspiring to look at the setting of the film, the stunt work, and the overall story as there were a lot of twists and turns that I did not anticipate on seeing, but it exceeded my expectations. Now, I honestly want one of those umbrellas, whether it is the one that looked like a weapon or not, for Christmas or my birthday.