Saw Raise the Red Lantern yesterday. And for all the stunning visuals and brilliantly choreographed action scenes of Hero and House of Flying Daggers, RtRL is a much superior movie than either of them. Gong Li might not be half as beautiful as Zhang Ziyi but she is an amazing actress (as I already knew from Farewell My Concubine). And for once Zhang Yimou had a great story to tell along with the usual superb cinematography.
In short, this is the story of a young Chinese girl who had to drop out of university due to her father's death and marry a rich man - who already had three wives - on her stepmother's insistence. Her new house, however, turns out to be stuck in a glut of customs and traditions which, along with the jealousies among the four wives, is something she is quite unprepared for. Her slow transition from a likable young woman to another scheming wife who would make elaborate plans to get to spend as many nights as possible with her husband and the tragic end it all leads her to is what this movie is all about. Great Movie.