Diau Charn ★★★★

The Shaw Brothers's first color film, a huangmei musical based on the story from Romance of the Three Kingdoms about the woman who tempted the great general Lü Bu into murdering his patron and father-in-law, the usurping Prime Minister Dong Zhuo in the latter days of the Han Dynasty. Li Han-hsiang directs, and while his and the Shaws sets and costumes aren't quite as ornate as they'd be in a few years, the way they dissolve quickly into painted backdrops adds an eerie level of abstraction to the already highly theatrical performances. Linda Lin Dai is pretty magnificent as one of the Four Great Beauties of Ancient China, a Dietrichean woman resolute in her determination to assassinate the cruel and illegitimate rulers of her kingdom yet innocent enough to fall in love with the man she's manipulating. Look for future Bruce Lee director Lo Wei as Dong Zhuo. I assume the movie is called "Diau Charn" instead of "Diao Chan" because of a Cantonese/Mandarin switcharoo, but the movie, like all the Shaws products, is in Mandarin, so I don't know.