This absorbing period epic tells the story of a 52-year friendship between two Chinese orphans, effeminate Dieyi (Cheung) and his soulmate Xiaolou (Fengyi), who are raised in the 1920s at a Peking Opera training school. As adults, they become famous national performers, but find their friendship under strain when Xiaolou marries fiery, ambitious prostitute Juxian (Gong).
Bringing a panoramic historical sweep to this intimate, tragic tale of love and friendship, Chen Kaige creates a marvelous spectacle from exotic locales, lavish set design, and fabulous performances by Cheung, Fengyi, and flawless beauty Gong. Most impressive is how Kaige pairs the story of Dieyi, an androgynous performer who secretly pines for Xiaolou, with each stage in China's turbulent 20th-century history, leading up to the dark years of Mao's Cultural Revolution. Beautifully realized and lushly photographed, this "Concubine" will surely seduce you.