Action Drama

TIFF Review: ‘Shadow’

September 12, 2018Ben MK

As a clash between two rival dynasties brews, an injured commander prepares his doppelgänger for a high-stakes confrontation with a fearsome general, while the commander's wife grapples with her feelings for her husband's "shadow."

In director Zhang Yimou's latest, the renowned director returns to the genre for which he's best known, telling the story of the exiled King of Pei (Zheng Kai), who, thanks to the actions of his top commander (Deng Chao), is forced to plan an attack to retake the Walled City of Jin, whose General Yang (Jun Hu) is one of China's most feared and respected warriors. But with virtually every character harboring their own hidden agenda, the outcome is anything but certain.

Mixing character drama with epic martial arts and battle sequences, the result is a tale filled with suspense, intrigue and double crosses. And though some viewers might be put off by the film's relatively slow and somewhat muddled first half, Shadow bounces back with a vengeance, thanks to a stirring final act that's as intense and as satisfying as anything Zhang has ever brought to the screen.

Shadow makes its North American premiere at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival. Its runtime is 1 hr. 56 min.

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