The Chinese director Zhang Yimou, having previously worked on a restrained scale, decides to go symphonic. Hence the broad thrusts of this movie, which is set two thousand years ago and is designed to show that, at a time when other modern civilisations were still mudbound, China was putting the final touches to the process of governing by martial arts.The pitiless leader of the Qin kingdom welcomes a young official (Jet Li), who has allegedly killed off three notable assassins, thus insuring peace in the land. His story does not ring true, and we are duly led through a variety of competing versions, each of them shot in different colours, under different skies. The result is not so much a historical epic as a kind of highly determined ballet: dreamy with bloodless violence, relying less on shades of character than on magnificence of gesture, and closer to Michael Powell of The Red Shoes or Tales of Hoffmann, say, than to the strivings of David Lean. The New Yorker

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Address Films in English or original language See daily press for programmes Cinemas Alcazar Via Merry del Val 14, tel. 065880099. In original language on Monday Cineclub Detour Via Urbana 47/a, tel. 064872368. In original language when available Fil

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Films in English or original language See daily press for programmes Cinemas Alcazar Via Merry del Val 14, tel. 065880099. In original language on Monday Cineclub Detour Via Urbana 47/a, tel. 064872368. In original language when available Fil