In the midst of the current boom of comic book movies, it’s easy to forget that was similar, but smaller Hollywood infatuation with the genre in the wake of the Tim Burton Batman movies. Most of the them were quickly and deservedly forgotten but this take on the old radio serials probably deserves to be remembered better than it has been.
Perhaps the saddest line in Bernardo Bertolucci’s Oscar-sweeping epic, comes early when the 9-year-old Emperor Pu Yi (Tijger Tsou) naively tells his brother that an emperor can do anything he wants. The bitter irony is that this is only true so long as the emperor does not want to do anything that matters to the people of China. He spends his childhood as a prisoner of his court’s need to have an emperor, in order to justify their own position.