Both a tribute to the triumph of the human spirit and an examination of the difficulties of setting aside modern conveniences for primitive survival.
Works when viewed through the narrow lens of one character’s personal redemption rather than through a wider portal.
As with almost everything directed by Steven Soderbergh, there’s a compulsive watchability to the proceedings.
Something of an old-fashioned courtroom melodrama, complete with impassioned speeches, a sneering prosecutor, an antagonistic judge, and a last-minute gotcha!
The second half, when the thriller elements kick into high gear, is considerably better than the dour, meandering first half.
Exemplifies Blumhouse at its worst and it’s not hard to see why this failed Hitchcock wannabe was never released theatrically. Even at the attractive price of “free,” it’s not worth it.
The film suffers from an overly-familiar narrative – other films have told with greater power similar stories of lost, self-destructive souls.
More successful when focusing on the unlikely romance between its stars than the silly and underwhelming murder mystery.
U.S. Release Date: 1988-04-15
MPAA Rating: "PG-13" (Violence, Sensuality, Brief Nudity)
Director: Bernardo Bertolucci
Cast: John Lone, Wu Junmei, Ric Young, Maggie Han, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Dennis Dun, Victor Wong, Ying Ruocheng, Peter O’Toole, Joan Chen, Cary Hiroyuki Tagawa
In addition to cementing its reputation with the Oscar win, "The Last Emperor" illustrated that Bertolucci could do more than make lurid artistic fare.