Emperor Li (Shakespeare's Claudius) has murdered his brother and upon acceding the throne, has taken his brother's young wife, Empress Wan (younger version of Shakespeare's Gertrude) as his wife and has her recrowned as Empress.
The usurping emperor then sents out riders to assassinate his nephew, Crown Prince Wu Luan (Shakespeare's Hamlet), who would succeed the throne before any of his uncle's progeny. The crown prince, away at a retreat for masked mime actors, survives the massacre at the monastery and is eventually spirited back to the palace.
To keep him alive, Empress Wan has made a compromise with his uncle, which angers Prince Wu Luan. His relationship with his stepmother is unusual because they grew up together in the court, are about the same age and she has romantic feelings for him.
However, the prince is engaged to marry Qing Nu (Shakespeare's Ophelia), the daughter of a palace official, the Grand Marshal (who can be linked to Shakespeare's Polonius). A close ally of the former emperor, the Grand Marshall's power is weakened when his son (Shakespeare's Laertes), who is very protective of his sister, Qing Nu, is sent to a distant province to become governor.
Meanwhile, the Empress Wan is to have a new coronation ceremony. As a special treat, Prince Wu Luan, an accomplished singer and dancer, stages a masked mime play that exposes his uncle as his father's murderer.
Rather than kill the prince and risk alienating Empress Wan, the emperor decides the prince would be traded as a hostage for the prince of a neighboring kingdom, the Khitans, although it is known that the neighbor prince is an imposter. An ambush by the emperor's men is set up in a far away, snowy land, but the Grand Marshal's son saves the prince.
Believing that power is firmly in his grip, the emperor calls for a grand banquet. Qing Nu, the Grand Marshal's daughter, has planned another play for the occasion, and in tribute to her fiance, she wears his theater mask. Empress Wan has her own plans – to poison the emperor. However, the scheme to poison the emperor fails as the cup he was to drink out of is instead given to Qing Nu out of respect and partly of pity for her. Upon the young woman's death, the emperor realises in horror that the empress Wan had plotted his death. It is then revealed that Crown Prince Wu Luan was in fact a member of the masked performing troupe. The emperor then commits suicide by drinking the rest of the poisoned wine intended for him. As Empress Wan asks Wu Luan to kill her, the Grand Marshal's son attempts to kill the Empress to avenge his sister, but his poisoned blade is stopped by Prince Wu Luan and Empress Wan stabs the Grand Marshal's son. However, Prince Wu Luan fatally poisons himself in the process of stopping the Grand Marshal's son.
Before the death of Empress Wan, she makes a short speech about the "flames of desire" she has supposedly escaped. However, almost immediately after, completing the cycle of death, the empress is stabbed by a dagger from an unknown source.
hli_xyooj: what about this movie too? I brought both of these(curse of the golden flower) i dont know which one is better, both seems interesting. i'm decidin to watch it in the morning with my family so itll be more fun to wach it as a family.