A nonpareil visual feast from one of the leading filmmakers of China, this historical pageant taking place in ancient times is one of the most expensive productions ever made in China, possibly the most expensive one. Director Chen Kaige planned and supervised the construction of a set comprising a whole city, which took over five years and cost over 200 million dollars. The set was kept standing after shooting ended and is now used by other film productions, planned to end up an entertainment park. The story, taking place during the Tang Dynasty (618-907), follows a poet, Bai Letian and a Japanese monk, Kukai, who jointly investigate the reasons that a demon cat appears and breaks the peace of Chang'an City. To solve the mystery, they have to go back and unravel the strange death of Concubine Yang by following the trail left by the cat, finally unveiling a buried unknown fact about her death that is bound to upset certain court dignitaries who were involved in it.
CHEN KAIGE is one of the best known members of the Chinese Fifth Generation filmmakers, the first generation that dared explore Chinese present and past history without the strict control of the authorities. After graduating Beijing Film Academy, he spent some time in the US as a film scholar, returning to China for his first film Yellow Earth (1984) which instantly became a festival favorite around the world. Some of his more famous films, most of them dealing with historical subjects, include Farewell My Concubine (1993) which won a Golden Palm at Cannes, The Emperor and the Assassin (1998), Together (2002) which was awarded the Silver Shell at San Sebastian), The Promise (2005), and Sacrifice (2010).