- 1 hr 56 min
Shadow is a Chinese period drama that takes place during the Three Kingdoms era of China. The film's protagonist, Commander Ziyu, is the leader of the Pei army which is embroiled in a long-standing war with their enemy, the Yang army. Ziyu is a wounded warrior, recovering from injuries sustained in battle while the regent of Pei, Yu, ordered him away from the front line to protect him.
To disguise his absence, Ziyu has sent his "shadow," an exact double named Jingzhou, to take his place. Jingzhou was a former slave from the palace, partnering with Ziyu to overthrow the current administration led by Yu. The shadow is the perfect body double, despite his master's initial distrust of the plan. Shadow has spent three years training to become an exact replica of his master, not just in appearance but also in his physical movements and speech. Informed by the Jin philosophical principle of Yin and Yang, the film focuses on a yin-yang balance between Commander Ziyu's light and Shadow's darkness.
Although Jingzhouâs work had been tremendously successful so far, tensions continually rise between him and the Commander, each dealing with the understanding that their roles will eventually be exchanged. It becomes even more complicated when Commander Ziyu's wife, Xiao Ai, is introduced to the plot. She comes from the Yang Clan, and the Commander is currently in negotiations with her father for peace, believing that she is his ticket to ending the long-standing war with the Yang army.
As the plot unfolds, their plan starts to fall apart as the deception becomes too much to contain. Meanwhile, the Yang Clan's commander wants to obtain the King's Seal, a symbol of power in the land. Commander Ziyu has it, but with the help of his shadow, the Yang Clan manages to procure a fake copy of the seal. The feud between the two armies reaches its peak until Ziyu decides to take matters into his own hands.
The cinematography of Shadow is incredible, as the entire film is shot in shades of slate-grey and white, contrasting with the vivid green of the landscaped city. The contrasts are particularly evident in several fight scenes, which are a blend of Wu Xia-style wirework and brutal Kung Fu martial arts. Shadow's visuals turn it into an exemplary piece of visual storytelling, and the tense plot does not disappoint. The actors do a particularly great job at portraying their characters, and Deng Chaoâs performance is impressive as he plays two entirely different personalities. In contrast, his supporting cast, especially Ryan Zheng and Li Sun, provide strength to the already compelling plot.
At its core, Shadow is an allegory of battling sides of human nature, showcasing the yin and yang performances of Ziyu and Shadow. It is also a visual extravaganza, featuring intricate set-design and cultural elements from Chinese heritage, like the elegant Jian swords and architecture. The tense war scenes speak to a broader ideological clash between two opposing factions.
Overall, Shadow is a thrilling and captivating film that depicts the complex dynamics of espionage, trust, and loyalty within the backdrop of a historical conflict in ancient China. It is an epic film supported by cinematic and visual splendor, yet manages to humanize the soldiers caught up in the war. It is a must-watch film for people who enjoy period dramas with an impressive display of action and visuals, and those who are interested in Chinese history and culture.
Shadow is a 2018 action movie with a runtime of 1 hour and 56 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.0 and a MetaScore of 81.