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.
Because of the strength of the acting (Ronan’s in particular) and Gerwig’s unusual reworking of the novel’s chronology and ending, it deserves to be seen.
If it doesn’t find its niche in theaters, it will certainly surface again in the home video market and become a favorite for Christmases to come.
The movie achieves its objective of placing the viewer in an uncomfortable situation and allowing it to play out around him or her; a riveting but decidedly non-mainstream horror film.