The Last Supper (Random Media, NR)

thelastsupper 75The Last Supper is a real historical epic of the old-school, put-your-money-on-the-screen variety.

 



If you know what the Chu-Han Contention was, or if your realize that the “last supper” of the title refers to the Feast at Hong Gate rather than something out of the New Testament, then you’re square in the center of the audience most likely to love The Last Supper. If not, you may still enjoy Lu Chuan’s film for its sweeping sense of history and first-rate technical qualities, but may also frequently find yourself lost in the film’s many twists and turns, and left wondering who is doing what to whom.

As if the history of the period between the fall of the Qin dynasty and the rise of the Han dynasty were not confusing enough, director Lu tells his tale using a nonlinear structure and many, many characters and locations. The film begins with Han dynasty founder Liu Bang (Ye Liu) as an old man, haunted by ghosts and nightmares, and so generally confused that he is barely able to distinguish between his wife (Qin Lan) from his concubine. The presentation of the severed head of General Xin (Chang Chen) sets off the first of his many flashbacks, as he recalls his youth as a hick from the sticks impressed by the dashing Lord Yu (Daniel Wu), by whose side he will later fight.

Liu oversteps himself by entering the Forbidden City—home to the Qin empire—before Yu, a foreshadowing of later strife as the two former comrades find themselves opposing each other in a struggle for power. Yu tries to be fair by divvying up the empire into 19 independent units, a decision that does not go well (remember King Lear?). Lots of other bloody and treacherous stuff happens, so much so that one reviewer has already likened this tale to Game of Thrones.

The Last Supper is a real historical epic of the old-school, put-your-money-on-the-screen variety. For that reason, even if you can’t keep the characters straight (a program, or at least a cheat sheet, would certainly have made a good addition to this release), you can enjoy basking in Lu’s spectacular visuals and some excellent acting by an all-star cast.

The image and sound on the disc are excellent. (I watched the DVD, though it’s also getting a blu-ray release.) However, rather oddly, there are no extras; this film is practically crying out for a few featurettes—one on the historical context and one of the making-of variety would be a good start. | Sarah Boslaugh

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