The king of Pei can barely cope with losing the city of Ying, but he knows his limitations. So his fury is enormous when his greatest general challenges the military leader of the enemy to a duel. What he doesn’t know is that this is a doppelgänger. The real general is wounded but plays his 'shadow' like a puppeteer. In turn, he cannot prevent his wife falling for his virile double. The friction long remains under the surface, but in the third act of this Shakespearean drama, it comes to a bloody climax.
With Hero (2002), Zhang Yimou blew new life into the wuxia genre. Then he went on to make The House of the Flying Daggers (2004) and Curse of the Golden Flower (2006). The historical martial-arts drama Shadow is a new high point. The battle for power and deceit are drenched in constant rain and a colour-palette that makes even the blood look grey.
Also see Masterclass Samson Wong.