Curse of the Golden Flower (2006) - full transcript

China, Later Tang Dynasty, 10th Century. On the eve of the Chong Yang Festival, golden flowers fill the Imperial Palace. The Emperor (Chow Yun Fat) returns unexpectedly with his second son, Prince Jai (Jay Chou). His pretext is to celebrate the holiday with his family, but given the chilled relations between the Emperor and the ailing Empress (Gong Li), this seems disingenuous. For many years, the Empress and Crown Prince Wan (Liu Ye), her stepson, have had an illicit liaison. Feeling trapped, Prince Wan dreams of escaping the palace with his secret love Chan (Li Man), the Imperial Doctor's daughter. Meanwhile, Prince Jai, the faithful son, grows worried over the Empress's health and her obsession with golden chrysanthemums. Could she be headed down an ominous path? The Emperor harbors equally clandestine plans; the Imperial Doctor (Ni Dahong) is the only one privy to his machinations. When the Emperor senses a looming threat, he relocates the doctor's family from the Palace to a remote area. While they are en route, mysterious assassins attack them. Chan and her mother, Jiang Shi (Chen Jin) are forced back to the palace. Their return sets off a tumultuous sequence of dark surprises. Amid the glamour and grandeur of the festival, ugly secrets are revealed. As the Imperial Family continues its elaborate charade in a palatial setting, thousands of golden armored warriors charge the palace. Who is behind this brutal rebellion? Where do Prince Jai's loyalties lie? Between love and desire, is there a final winner? Against a moonlit night, thousands of chrysanthemum blossoms are trampled as blood spills across the Imperial Palace.

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His Highness, Prince HANSMER Yu arrives!

Your Majesty.

Yu...

is everything ready?

Mother...

Second Brother should be here soon.

Has he entered the Palace?

I hear he stopped at the Official
Inn to await orders.

First Brother mentioned...

that as soon as Father arrives...

he will ask permission to leave.



He wants to go to Qingzhou.

Mother.

Her Majesty the Empress arrives!

First Brother.

Your Majesty.

So you are leaving.

Are you afraid?

You are my mother, Your Majesty.

We have been
intimate for three years.

You, of all people
should know who I am.

I am first and
foremost my father's son.

Mother!

I am not your mother!

Many things can be changed.



In fact, nothing can be changed.

Still, I would like to try.

What are you going to do?

It is time to go
and welcome the Emperor.

The day breaks.

The court presides.

Peace to all.

It is the Hour of the Tiger.

The day breaks.

The court presides.

Peace to all.

It is the Hour of the Tiger.

Your servant kneels
before the Empress.

Your Majesty's medicine
for the hour is ready.

By the Emperor's command...

retire to your chambers!

The welcome ceremony is cancelled!

Retire to your chambers!

The welcome ceremony is cancelled!

The Emperor commands...

retire to your chambers!

The welcome ceremony is cancelled!

Retire to your chambers!

The welcome ceremony is cancelled!

Your Majesty...

the Emperor commands...

everyone is to return
to their chambers.

The welcome ceremony is cancelled.

Where is His Majesty?

The Emperor has diverted his
escort to the Official Inn.

Your Majesty...

the Emperor requests the presence
of the Empress and the two princes...

on the Chrysanthemum Terrace
tomorrow morning.

Your Highness, Prince Jai...

the Emperor has arrived.

Your son kneels before the Emperor.

I am honored...

by Father's personal visit.

Come.

Father's prowess is unequaled.

The decision to send you
to the frontier...

was clearly the right one.

I came here today...

to warn you...

against your past mistakes.

There are many things
in Heaven and Earth...

but you can only have...

what I choose to give you.

What I do not give...

you must never take by force.

Father's counsel...

is etched into my heart.

Return to the Palace with me.

His Highness, Prince Jai arrives!

Jai.

Your son kneels before the Empress.

Mother.

It has been over three years.

Have you been well?

I am very well.

And you?

I have missed Mother...

every moment of every day.

Mother.

You must have suffered.

I am fine.

Charity seeks no recognition.

Virtue seeks no reward.

The harvest is abundant.

It is the Hour of the Rabbit.

Your Majesty...

the Empress has been
taking her medicine...

daily and without interruption.

Following Your Majesty's
instruction...

the black fungus is added
personally by my daughter, Chan.

Nobody knows about
the new ingredient.

Has it been ten days now?

Exactly ten days.

Is your relationship
with Father unchanged?

Why is Mother embroidering
so many chrysanthemums?

It is the Chrysanthemum Festival soon,
remember?

Mother!

Mother!

Your Majesty! Your Majesty!

What is the matter?

Your Highness...

your servant does not know.

It is the third time
this has happened.

Mother's illness is clearly serious.

Have you been taking your medicine?

Have a rest.

Before the Chrysanthemum Festival...

I must finish all the embroidery.

Why don't you go
and see your brothers?

His Highness, Prince Jai arrives!

Jai bows to his First Brother,
the Crown Prince Wan.

Second Brother, please sit.

Thank you.

Second Brother.

Yu.

Second Brother...

I hear Father changed his plans
and welcomed you in person.

We all waited up half
the night in vain.

These years away from home...

must have been hard.

It was fine.

Do you know what
is wrong with Mother?

Father says she suffers from anemia.

She has been taking
her medicine regularly.

She seems to be obsessed
with embroidering chrysanthemums.

They must be for the Festival.

Dad!

Have you been visiting
with the Crown Prince again?

Why would I visit the Crown Prince?

Father knows.

What do you know?

Go more often!

This is a Persian black fungus.

Do you know its properties?

Two grams a day,
taken over a few months...

will cause a person to lose
all their mental faculty.

And you think you know so much.

But the Empress...

Don't breathe a word.

Our entire clan will be executed!

Law of the nation...

Precept of the home...

Ancient yet unchanged.

It is the Hour of the Dragon.

Your servant kneels
before the Empress.

Your Majesty's medicine
for the hour is ready.

So, you are Chan.

Yes, Your Majesty.

The Imperial Doctor is your father?

Yes.

The Crown Prince seems
a little pale lately.

Is the Empress asking her servant?

My duty is only to prepare
Your Majesty's medicine.

I am not acquainted with
His Highness's state of health.

Is that so?

You may enter.

'To the highest mountains
my brothers ascend...

but one is missing,
without berries in his hair.

Prince Jai has returned.

The family is reunited.

Do you know why...

every Chrysanthemum Festival...

we assemble on this high
terrace as a family?

Father, on the ninth day
of the ninth month...

the sun and the moon unite.

We call this the
Chrysanthemum Festival.

It symbolizes the strength
and harmony of the family...

and we always celebrate
on this high terrace.

That is a very good answer.

The terrace is round.
The table is square.

What do they represent?

That Heaven is round.
The earth is square.

The law of the Heavens...

dictates the rule of earthly life...

under the circle,
within the square...

everyone has his proper placement.

This is called natural law.

Emperor, Courtier, Father, Son...

loyalty, filial piety,
ritual and righteousness...

all relationships obey this law.

Do you have any requests?

Your Majesty...

I beg permission...

to travel to Qingzhou.

You also wish to be
sent to the frontier?

I have never left the Palace...

and would like to gain
experience in the outside world.

Is there anything else?

Father...

I beg your permission, also.

What is it?

I...

do not know if it
would be appropriate...

Then speak when you do know.

You did not finish the medicine

served at the Hour of the Dragon.

Is there any left?

Your Majesty...

there is a sip or two.

Serve it to the Empress.

Yes.

Your Majesty...

your consort is not ill.

That is your opinion.

Medicine has to be taken in the
right measure, at the right time.

Everything abides by its own law.

Yu.

Mother, please do not upset Father.

Mother, please take the medicine.

Remain kneeling...

until your mother drains the cup.

Father...

Mother does not wish to drink.

Why not let her be?

Medicine is governed by dosage...

just as life is governed
by its own law.

Surely you all know this.

Mother...

you have been taking
this medicine for years.

This is only a little sip...

why refuse?

You are right.

I have been taking
this medicine for years...

why refuse now?

Your mother is not well.

Are you not aware?

We know, Father.

If a person is sick,
they have to be treated.

Why is this unusual?

What were you trying to say just now?

Father...

I would like...

on the night of the
Chrysanthemum Festival...

I would like to command
the Imperial Guards.

I, too, wish to gain experience.

Since Prince Jai has returned...

he will assume this duty.

Jai.

Present, Father.

The Imperial Guards
protect our private palaces.

On the night of the Festival...

they will be under your sole command.

Do you understand?

Father's trust will not be misplaced.

You know what to do.

The Empress arrives.

Your consort kneels before the Emperor.

Do you know why I summoned you?

Today...

you acted against the family's wishes.

Watch closely...

I select each ingredient personally...

with utmost care.

This will cure your anemia.

I thank His Majesty for his concern.

All good medicine tastes bitter.

You have excess bile...

poor digestion...

Yin and Yang are out of balance.

That is why you are fractious...

listless and lethargic...

capable of nothing but cutting remarks.

These are all symptoms of anemia.

It has been more than ten years.

My so-called sickness...

is clearly not improving
with Your Majesty's treatment.

If your father were not
the King of Liang...

I would scarcely
be speaking with you...

with such restraint.

You had better understand...

that as long as I am the Emperor...

and you, the Empress...

we shall play
our parts to perfection.

The Imperial Family...

has to set an example
for the entire country.

For the sake of this family...

there is much that
I am prepared to tolerate...

because my concern...

is to maintain law
and order in the home.

Chickens roost.

Gentlemen to rest.

Streams run clear.

It is the Hour of the Snake.

Your servant kneels
before the Empress.

Your Majesty's medicine
for the hour is served.

Thank you, Your Majesty.

Do you know what day it is tomorrow?

The Chrysanthemum Festival...

the day my birth mother died.

You lost your mother
when you were small...

and I was away at war
much of the time.

I never took proper care of you.

This has created a distance
between us...

but you have always
been my favorite son.

I asked Jai to come back...

and gave him a heavy
responsibility tonight.

Did you wonder why?

Father...

is thinking of...

making Jai the Crown Prince.

If this makes you uncomfortable...

I shall not go ahead.

Father need not worry.

I am without talent...

and do not deserve the throne.

Twice in the past I begged Father
to appoint another heir.

I had meant it sincerely.

Father's wish is my wish.

How did you manage to sneak away?

Did the Emperor grant you
permission to leave for Qingzhou?

After the Festival...

if Your Highness asks again...

I am sure the Emperor will say yes.

Your Highness,
please do not forget...

to take Chan with you.

Once there...

we shall finally be together.

If only I could get away...

It will happen!

Her Majesty the Empress arrives!

Your Majesty.

You can tell her to come out.

What did Mother say?

Tell her to come out!

Mother...

Come out!

What is the punishment?

For seducing the Crown Prince...

trespassing into royal chambers...

by law twenty lashes of the whip...

branding of the face...

and banishment from the Palace.

Your Highness, what do you suggest?

What happened
here was entirely my fault.

For my sake, I beg Your Majesty...

to exercise lenience.

Mother, please spare her.

Fine.

I shall let her go this time...

but I do this for
the sake of another, not you.

You may rise.

I am not trying to make
things difficult for you.

But before the Festival...

nothing untoward must
happen in the Palace.

Leave me.

I have made the discovery...

Your Majesty requested.

The new ingredient
in your prescription...

is a black fungus from Persia.

Two grams a day...

over a few months...

will cause a person
to lose all their mental faculty.

Thank you.

I did not do this for money.

Then why did you?

The Empress may think...

that I came...

because of the generous reward...

but I came...

for my own reasons.

I hate this man.

Only Your Majesty is
in a position to avenge me.

I see that your face is branded.

Why were you in jail?

Your Majesty...

forgive my silence on this subject.

Farewell.

Your Highness, Prince Wan.

The Empress has already retired.

Who are you?

Father.

Your Majesty.

This is the wife
of the Imperial Doctor.

Father...

this woman broke in
into the Palace three days ago.

Raise your head.

Loosen the ties!

Leave us!

Wan...

you must never speak of
the events of this night.

Remember!

You may rise.

It has been twenty-five years.

I thought...

that I would never see you again.

And you married the Imperial Doctor!

At the time you were
only a lowly captain...

plotting day and night
to become Emperor.

You flattered the King of Liang...

into letting you marry his daughter.

You planned meticulously to have
my entire family put in prison.

Later...

I alone managed to escape.

Far from home, I almost died.

It was the doctor who saved me.

Who then, do you think
I should have married?

Why did you come?

I came to see my son.

I suppose the Empress invited you.

I have never even met the Empress.

What I owe you...

I shall repay in full.

The Imperial Doctor...

has served us for many years...

with impeccable conduct,
loyalty and honesty.

He is promoted
to Governor of Suzhou...

also Commander of Chariots.

He will depart immediately...

with his daughter, Chan.

This is the order of His Majesty.

We thank His Majesty
for his gracious favor.

Your humble servant
kneels before the Emperor.

Before I leave...

I beg to serve Your Majesty
one last time.

How long have you been with me?

Your Majesty...

it has been fifteen years.

If I have ever wronged you...

please forgive me.

Your Majesty must
not say such things!

Your servant would
willingly give his life...

Your wife...

is she well?

She is.

She will accompany you
to your new post.

Your Majesty is too considerate.

My gratitude is without bounds.

As for the Empress's medicine...

I have prepared
two months' supply.

Your Majesty need only
command the pharmacist...

to heat up each dose as necessary.

Your consort kneels
before the Emperor.

Leave us.

I came to pay respects to the
Crown Prince's birth mother.

Today is the anniversary of her death.

For over twenty years this portrait
has kept Your Majesty company.

In your heart...

there is only one woman.

What have you come to say?

I hear...

that an assassin was captured
last night...

and the Emperor spent a long time
interrogating him.

Is anything wrong with that?

Of course not.

I shall take my leave now.

His Highness, Prince Jai arrives.

Leave us, all of you.

Mother.

I have been taking your father's
medicine for over ten years.

Ten days ago...

he suddenly changed the formula...

and this new ingredient was added.

Mother was taken ill yesterday.

Was it because of this?

Why is Father doing this to you?

Jai...

after the Chrysanthemum Festival...

I shall tell you the whole truth.

Each day, in front of your father...

I have to feign ignorance.

Every two hours...

I swallow this poison without protest.

Nobody knows what is happening.

I shall die exactly as your
father intends - a cretin...

but I refuse
to submit without a fight.

On the night of the Festival...

I shall put an end to all of this.

Do my brothers know?

No.

If I had not come back...

would Mother have gone ahead?

Yes.

Then why did you tell me?

Because I want you to be Emperor.

Are you going to kill Father?

I shall force him to abdicate...

but it is not my intention
to kill him.

Mother...

a son cannot stand in rebellion
against his father!

Whatever the circumstances...

he is still my father
and my Emperor.

Jai...

I know that this puts you
in an untenable position.

You do not have to do anything
you do not want.

Prayers in the Spring...

Tranquility in the Fall...

The earth yields.

It is the Hour of the Monkey.

Mother.

Your son will help you.

You will never
drink this poison again.

His Highness,
the Crown Prince arrives!

Mother summoned me.

Is anything the matter?

Please leave us.

I have made a new robe for you...

different from the one last year.

I have added
this chrysanthemum specially.

What does this mean?

It will protect you from harm.

Protect me?

What exactly are you plotting?

Wan...

on the night of the
Chrysanthemum Festival...

you must wear this.

I will not wear it.

You must.

I refuse!

I refuse.

I refuse to wear it!

What in Heaven's name
are you trying to do?

Your Highness!

I received the message...

that Your Highness was coming...

and have been waiting up all night.

I came here...

to ask you something.

Why was your mother at the Palace?

She came to see me.

Had she visited you before?

No. Why?

Do not keep anything from me.

Never!

I always tell Your Highness
everything I know.

Do you know why the Empress
keeps embroidering chrysanthemums?

I hear they are for the Festival.

The eunuch in charge of weaving
has made ten thousand flowers for her.

Ten thousand?

Her Majesty had them all
delivered to General Wu.

Of the State Army?

That's right.

How did you know?

I heard my father mention it.

What else do you know?

Nothing.

Chan.

Chan.

My mother is coming. Please hide!

Something is about
to happen at the Palace.

I must go back.

Something terrible...

Your servant kneels
before the Crown Prince.

Your Highness, may I present my wife.

Quick!

Kneel down,
welcome the Crown Prince!

Leave!

I said leave!

How can you speak
to His Highness in this way?

Mom, this is the Crown Prince!

Leave now! Go!

Please forgive her.

Your Highness...

please forgive her.

Please forgive her.

I was such a fool.

I should never have
let you enter the Palace.

His Highness's feelings
for me are true.

The two of you...

can never be together.

But why?

No reason.

You must never see him again.

Something terrible is going
to happen tonight.

Mom, I have to go and find him.

You dare!

What is going on?

Chan, go outside.

For more than ten years...

I have never once asked
you about your past.

What exactly have you been
hiding from me?

Where is Chan?

Gone to the Palace!

You fool!

By royal command,
I am the new Governor of Suzhou!

Who are you?

Let's go!

Let's go!

You must be hiding something
important from me.

Quick! Go and save our daughter!

No!

His Highness
the Crown Prince arrives.

When will you make your move?

So you know.

How did you find out?

It is not your concern.

When do you plan to make your move?

The night of the
Chrysanthemum Festival.

What are you afraid of?

This has nothing to do with you.

How can it have nothing
to do with me?

I am the Crown Prince.

The entire country is going
to think I planned it all.

So what if you did?

You lunatic!

You raving lunatic!

Father is right.

You do need to take his medicine
every day until you die!

Get out!

If you proceed
with your insane plan...

you are asking me to die.

All you ever wanted
was for me to die.

Yes...

I want you to die.

Wan!

Wan!

Wan!

Help!

Your Majesty,
fortunately the wound is not fatal.

His Highness will recover.

You must be hiding
something else from me.

Why are you doing this?

I have no choice.

I beg you...

please stop...

for your own good.

I know...

but I cannot do as you say.

Wan.

Your father is arriving any moment.

The secret between the two of you...

has been known to me for some time.

Ever since...

night after night...

I have lain in bed with my eyes open.

Have you ever considered
how I might feel?

I do not blame you.

I know...

it was she who seduced you.

Father.

Where is your mother?

Your Majesty, Mother is dressing.

I shall go and see if she is ready.

These berries...

were your birth mother's favorite.

Even after the Festival...

she would wear them for a few days...

to ward off evil spirits.

Yes.

Each year, on this day...

you too should wear...

a twig of berries...

to honor the memory of
your birth mother.

I shall not forget, Father.

His Highness!

His Highness, Prince Jai arrives!

Mother...

what happened with Wan?

He knows everything.

Will he tell?

The chrysanthemums are all ready.

They deserve to bloom once.

I understand...

Jai.

Go then.

By order of the Commanding Officer:

To reward your hard work...

a banquet has been prepared.

While at your feast...

your duties will be assumed by
our Commanding Officer.

Orders received.
We thank our gracious Prince.

Mom, what is going on?

The Emperor wants to
kill our entire family.

Why?

Where is Dad?

The Empress sent help.

Please, this way.

Your Majesties - Emperor,
Empress...

the Imperial Doctor's
family is outside.

Let them come.

So it was you who defended them.

Leave us.

Your Majesty,
I have come to you still alive.

It was beneath contempt...

to attack us under
the cloak of darkness.

Once again you have deceived me.

You coward and hypocrite...

my daughter and I stand before you.

Go ahead, kill us!

You should not have worked
for the Empress.

You brought this upon them.

And my husband and daughter?

They knew nothing about me!

But they knew far too much about me.

Father...

who is she?

Wan!

Wan...

I shall tell you who she is.

Your Majesty!

She is the woman in the portrait.

Empress!

Your father's first wife...

your birth mother.

Father...

is this true?

Yes...

it is true.

Now are you satisfied?

Yes.

I wanted him to know...

what kind of a person
his father is.

Didn't you say she died
a long time ago?

Chan!

Chan!

Mother...

why did you have to tell us?

Chan!

Chan!

Chan!

What else is there up your sleeve?

You will find out soon.

Yu!

Mother...

this is now out of your hands!

Your shameful incestuous affair...

you think I don't know?

You think I am still a child?

I know what you and
Jai have been planning.

I am acting first!

Wan!

Wan!

Have you gone mad?

I am not mad!

Abdicate immediately
and offer me the throne!

I know you have never liked me.

Who has ever cared about me?

Who has ever thought about me?

He is your older brother!

And I want to kill him!

I hate him!

I hate you all!

I... I... I am so sorry.

Attack!

Halt!

Attack!

Throw!

Shields up!

Shields up!

Shields up!

Forward!

Forward!

Attack!

Do not harm Prince Jai!

Do not harm Prince Jai!

Throw!

Catch!

Ready!

Ready!

Ready!

Ready!

Ready!

Ready!

Ready!

Ready!

Ready!

Shoot!

Hold the gates!

Take him alive!

Kneel!

Rise!

You took the life
of my favorite son.

He told me everything...

about your pitiful coup.

I thought he would.

You are truly insane.

Execute!

I had a plan.

After the Chrysanthemum Festival...

I was going to remove
Wan as Crown Prince...

and appoint you as my heir.

I had told you before...

what I do not give you...

you must never take by force.

The Imperial Flag...

was a final warning to you.

I always knew...

that this was not a
battle I could have won.

Kill me, or dismember me...

you will do as you wish...

but I need you to know, Father...

that I did not rebel...

for the sake of the crown.

I did it for the sake of my mother.

Heaven, earth, and man unite.

Fortune and prosperity to all...

Midnight...

The Hour of the Rat.

The Chrysanthemum Festival begins.

The phoenix spreads its wings.

Sun and moon shine bright.

The four seas rise.

Frontiers push back.

Humanity, wisdom, trust...

Ritual, righteousness, loyalty...

Deep virtue pervades.

Father to son... Wise kings all.

Follow the Heavens' way.

Peace and glory above...

Rain down...

On all nations below.

Your servant kneels before the Empress.

Your Majesty's medicine
for the hour is ready.

What is the punishment...

for a prince in rebellion?

Your Majesty -

to be torn apart by five horses.

Jai.

Father...

is prepared to spare you...

if you agree to one thing.

From now on...

every day...

you will personally serve
your mother's medicine.

Mother...

your son has failed you.

Please forgive me.