Critic Reviews



Based on 25 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com
A martial-arts movie landmark, as strong in its performances as it is spectacularly novel in its violence.
This is a filmmaker in total command of every visual element — his compositions more compelling than ever, the production design almost verging on steampunk, and a special mention has to go to the extraordinary costumes — but it doesn’t feel stifling or precious either.
The real star of the show here is the strikingly gorgeous, often almost bi-chrome visual universe, inspired by the tai chi diagram — more commonly known in the West as yin-and-yang symbol — and traditional ink-brush painting, with its distinct combination of rich blacks and fluid shades of gray.
Every supremely controlled stylistic element of Zhang Yimou’s breathtakingly beautiful Shadow is an echo of another, a motif repeated, a pattern recurring in a fractionally different way each time.
Shadow brings heart and spectacle together, and the result is a bombastic martial arts wuxia replete with duels of breath-taking beauty that will please longtime Zhang acolytes and newbies alike.
After the disappointing martial-monster mash-up of The Great Wall, this represents a return to the majesty and emotional finesse of Hero and House of Flying Daggers.
Shadow is a sumptuous sensory feast filled with spectacle, surprise, and madness.
Mr. Zhang’s film is elegant fun. Along with all the ying-yangery, there’s the governing concept of movies as entertainment.
The scales ultimately tip slightly in favor of style, but when that style is this gorgeous, remembering a movie for the way it looks rather than its plot isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Shadow isn’t a bad epic so much as a banal one.

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