Curse of the Golden Flower (Sony Pictures Classics, 12.14), Zhang Yimou‘s strangest and most troubled film, abounds in hysterical, mannered Tang Dynasty-era palace intrigue and dehumanized CGI battle sequences,” declares Variety‘s Robert Koehler. “Zhang captured a rich wife’s sequestered life poetically in Raise the Red Lantern, but a similar sense of isolation in Curse turns almost suffocating, as royals tear themselves apart with much actorish emoting along the way. Despite superstars Chow Yun-fat and Gong Li leading the lavish enterprise, pic is unlikely to approach international B.O. numbers of Zhang’s far more vigorous period epics, Hero and House of Flying Daggers.”