The Last Supper is a Chinese historical drama from Lu Chuan, the director of City of Life and Death (2009). It becomes available today, Tuesday, September 14th, on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD. This review is based on watching the Blu-ray version.
The film is an historical drama concerned with the founding of the Han Dynasty. It begins in 195 B.C. when Emperor Liu Bang (mainland actor Liu Ye), who founded the dynasty, is 61 years old and rather mentally enfeebled. In a flashback set fourteen years earlier, when Liu was forty-eight, we learn that he and Xin (Taiwan born Chen Chang), who would become a leading general, were just "street rats." At that time, Liu first saw Lord Yu (Daniel Wu), who was then twenty-four and leading the rebellion against the Ziying, the Qin Emperor. Yu was of noble birth, but "blind to the ambitions of others." The film depicts the rivalries, shifting alliances and betrayals among these three characters.
A sub-theme concerns the jealousy of Liu's wife (actress Qin Lan, the director's wife) toward his concubines, particularly Qi, and their offspring.
Many of the scenes take place in Liu's dark, heavily draped quarters. There he recalls events from the past and is plagued with nightmares.
The film appears to have been made on a rather modest budget. There are references to armies numbering in the hundreds of thousands; however we usually see perhaps a few dozen soldiers at most. There is just one CGI scene depicting a large force, but the computer figures in the background are largely stationary. There is only one actual battle scene and it's rather limited in terms of the number of combatants involved.
There are no extras on the Blu-ray or DVD. The only option is watching the movie with English subtitles on or off.
The Last Supper, which was shown at the 2013 New York Asian Film Festival, may be short on action, but it is replete with intrigue.
AsianCineFest Rating: 2.5 out of 4 stars. Give it 3 stars if you're after the drama, and the lack of action (and extras) doesn't concern you.