The Qin emperor Shih Huang Ti is on his way to conquering the 6 Kingdoms of feudal China and uniting the Middle Kingdom. He recalls childhood friend Gao Qian Li who is the undisputed maestro of the Chinese lute. The emperor asks him to compose a symphony in celebration of his victory in the bloody war to unify China. A man who refuses to bow to the force of tyranny, Gao Qian Li is unwilling to undertake the composition. Frustrated and angered by Gao’s unrelenting disobedience, yet unable and unwilling to kill him for reasons of his obvious talents and their childhood friendship, the tyrant appears to have met his match. Matters take a twisted turn as Gao falls prey to the seduction of the emperor’s crippled daughter, Princess Ping Yang violating her virginity and enraging the Emperor even further. Both Gao and the Princess use each other as pawns, to vent their anger at the cruel Emperor. At her behest, Gao finally composes the song Tribute to Qin. After the premiere performance of the song, Gao suicidally jumps into the river with his flaming lute, drowning his music forever. This is a movie of epic proportions, exploring the twisted relationship between the ruthlessly tyrannical Qin Emperor and his childhood playmate. The sets are impressively stunning as are the performances by both male leads, both emerging from the tutelage of Chinese New Wave meister, Zhang Yi Mou.
Directed by Xiaowen Zhou | Starring : You Ge, Wen Jiang, Qing Xu, Yuan Yuan, Qingxiang Wang | Presented at San Sebastian Film Festival, Vancouver Film Festival, AFI Film Festival