Bloody historical epic about court intrigue in China's Five Dynasties period, loosely based on Shakespeare's 'Hamlet'.
The setting is an ancient Chinese kingdom, where malice and treachery rule.
The latest turmoil arises with the sudden death of the emperor.
Suspicion falls on his ambitious brother Li (You Ge), who takes the throne as well as his brother's young, beautiful wife, Empress Wan (Ziyi Zhang).
The only obstacle in his path is his brother's son, Prince Wuluan (Daniel Wu), a melancholy youngster who harbours a sexual longing for his stepmother and has consequently exiled himself to a colony in the wilderness.
When the new emperor's ninja assassins reach the colony the prince barely escapes with his life.
Returning to the palace, he is at once embroiled in schemes, counterschemes and suspect declarations of love.
The film climaxes at a late night banquet where murder is the main dish on the menu...