First, if you are expecting martial arts, you won't get it. If your expecting lots of gore, nope. What this provides is another view of one of the moments in the early history of China and in this case the beginnings of the Han Dynasty. To give you some idea of what it was like, this was 206BCE. Rome and Carthage were fighting it out. The Roman General Scipio gains control of Spain from Carthage and return to Rome to become a Consul. And the Han Dynasty has just begun. It begins as many dynasty begin with conquest and a certain level of blood letting. Liu Bang had allies and in fact he was the minor ally. The agreement was he would wait for the main ally, Lord Yu before entering the capital, and he didn't. When Lord Yu arrived there was a supper and everyone expected that at this supper Lord Yu was going to hold a reckoning with Liu Bang and another minor ally the General Xin Han. To this day I don't think anyone really knows why Lord Yu let them live, from the point of his own survival it was definitely a mistake. Liu Bang went on to establish the Han Dynasty and with the help of General Xin Han who was considered brilliant he defeated and killed Lord Yu. At some point Liu Bang began to fear General Xin Han although he had never given any indication of rebellion, but why take chances? This is the true evil of power - it kills your ability to trust and makes all too easy to betray. His wife was more than happy to help the slowly becoming incapacitated monarch carry out his hit list. After all once he was gone she had one of her own starting with his concubine's sons.
The movie is well acted and the plot is complicated. Many people will complain about the use of subtitles but the Chinese have become adept at slowing the speed of conversation to the speed of the average reader so its not as difficult as it used to be. If you want action and martial arts pass on this one but if you want an entertaining piece about a moment in Chinese history that was probably not covered in your western history books you'll enjoy this.