Watch My Kingdom
- 1 hr 48 min
My Kingdom is a 2011 Chinese film, directed by Xiaosong Gao and starring Chun Wu, Geng Han, and Barbie Hsu. It is set in China during the 1920s and tells the story of two street performers, whose friendship is put to the test when they become rivals for the affections of a beautiful courtesan. The film begins with Li (Chun Wu) and Qiao (Geng Han) as young boys, learning the art of face-changing from their master, Shu (Yuan Nie). Face-changing is a traditional Chinese performance technique that involves changing masks rapidly to portray different characters. The boys have been steeped in the traditions of the form since they were young, and they are both adept in the art. They are also the best of friends, with Li being something of a big brother to Qiao.
As they grow up, Li and Qiao become renowned street performers, traveling from town to town and showcasing their skills. They are often accompanied by a young girl named Xi Mulan (Barbie Hsu), who acts as their assistant and provides comic relief. Despite their humble circumstances, Li and Qiao are happy and content with their lives.
But things start to unravel when they reach the city of Shanghai. There, they meet the beautiful Xiao Yufeng (Han Geng), a courtesan who has captured the heart of every man who has ever met her. Li and Qiao are no exception, and they both fall in love with her. Yufeng, however, is only interested in the man who can beat her champion fighter in a death match. Li and Qiao both try their hand at the challenge, but in the end, it is Li who emerges victorious.
Li's victory puts a strain on his friendship with Qiao, and the two become bitter rivals. Li is soon catapulted into the upper echelons of Shanghai society, becoming a wealthy businessman with political connections. Qiao, meanwhile, is left behind, bitter and resentful.
The film takes a dramatic turn when Yufeng is abducted by a Japanese gangster, who is trying to force her to become his mistress. Li and Qiao both decide to rescue her, setting aside their differences for the sake of the woman they both love. What follows is a thrilling action sequence, as the two face off against the gangster and his men.
The film ends on a bittersweet note, as Li and Qiao put their differences aside and renew their friendship. Yufeng, meanwhile, leaves them both, realizing that she can never have a normal life with either of them.
My Kingdom is a beautifully made film, with stunning cinematography and impressive visual effects. The face-changing scenes are particularly impressive, with the masks changing in a matter of seconds to create a dizzying array of characters. The film's action sequences are also top-notch, with the final showdown being a particular highlight.
However, what really sets My Kingdom apart is its exploration of friendship and loyalty. Li and Qiao are both flawed characters, but they are also intensely loyal to each other. Their relationship is put to the test several times throughout the film, but in the end, they always end up putting their friendship first. This theme is underscored by the film's portrayal of face-changing, which is about more than just changing masks. It is a symbol of transformation and the ability to take on different roles, and as such, it becomes a metaphor for the characters' personal growth and development.
In conclusion, My Kingdom is a must-watch for anyone interested in Chinese cinema or martial arts films. With its memorable characters, thrilling action sequences, and exploration of loyalty and friendship, it is a film that will stay with you long after you've watched it.