Through the story of Xishi (Hsi Shih), one of Chinese history’s greatest beauties, this costume drama tells the fights between two Chinese kingdoms 2,500 years ago. After the Kingdom of Yue is defeated by that of Wu, Goujian the King takes pains to prepare for his revenge and rebuilding the co...(Read more)
Through the story of Xishi (Hsi Shih), one of Chinese history’s greatest beauties, this costume drama tells the fights between two Chinese kingdoms 2,500 years ago. After the Kingdom of Yue is defeated by that of Wu, Goujian the King takes pains to prepare for his revenge and rebuilding the country. He knows well that the King of Wu, Fucha, is lewd and lustful, so he offers Xishi to the Court of Wu to serve as Fucha’s concubine, with Fucha unaware that she is also a spy. She uses her charm to draw Fucha from his office and governess, leaving the ruling class of Wu rotten. Meanwhile, Goujian secretly summons his friends and his people and equips them with force and arms. After ten years of reversal of power, Goujian at last takes his revenge, reclaims his land and rebuilds his kingdom.
This film is the grandest historical epic in the history of Taiwanese cinema. The massive production budget; long shooting time; spectacular scenes, settings, and props; a massive cast of fascinating stars and an extensive crew; and alluring activities and profitable products during its screening created commercial and critical success, making this film a milestone in the histories of both Taiwanese and Asian film. Director Li Han-Hsiang—after his Shaw Brothers Studio (HK) work, The Love Eterne (1963), which swept the theaters of Hong Kong, Taiwan and Southeast Asia—launched the Grand Motion Picture Company (GMP) in Taiwan to make his own film. GMP, along with its debut film Hsi Shih: Beauty of Beauties, also introduced to Taiwan professional crews, a studio system, and the idea of “high concept” movies.
No historical epics can be made without the influence of contemporary ideology, in particular nationalist politics. In fact, the theme of “revenge and reclaim” reflects the then-KMT policy of counterattacking the Chinese Communist Party and retaking mainland China. Thus, this film served in 1960s as somewhat of a piece of political propaganda and state-building myth. Forty years after Hsi Shih, director Ang Lee brought Hollywood teams and techniques to Taiwan to film Life of Pi (2012), with the hope of inspiring local filmmaking. The loss of studios and audiences since the 1980s and Hollywood’s monopoly in the 1990s have led to contemporary Taiwan cinema’s nostalgia for films like Hsi Shih and the desire for the utopian cinematic production ideals of Life of Pi.
DVD source：Taiwan Cinema Toolkit, Ministry of Culture, R.O.C.
|Producer：||CHOU Tien-Ku, YANG Chiao|
|Actors：||CHIANG Ching, CHAO Lei|
|Editor：||SHEN Yu-Chi, CHEUNG Chung-Man|
Taiwan Film Institute
1966 Golden Horse Awards, Best Feature Film, Best Director, Best Leading Actor, Best Cinematography of Color Film, Best Art Direction of Color Film Awards