The Zhao family has possessed a lot of power and influence in the country for many generations. But Tu’an Gu, the enemy of the Zhaos, kills the whole family during a well-planned coup. The only one to survive this massacre is a little baby. The doctor Cheng Ying and his wife hide the baby from Tu’an Gu's henchmen. Cheng Ying, lusting for revenge, passes off the boy as his own and names him Cheng Bo. Several years later, they enter the service of the house Tu’an Gu...
This movie, based on a play by an unknown author from the 17th century, is said to be the masterpiece of the Chinese director Chen Kaige. Nevertheless, the violence against animals (mainly horses falling down) is a disputable issue. Apparently, the cruelty was a thorn in the side of the censors of the BBFC, so those scenes had to be removed.
Comparison between the German FSK 12 DVD and the British BBFC 15 DVD.
BBFC 15: 117:05 min. PAL without end credits
FSK 12: 117:36 min. PAL without end credits
There are missing 31 seconds caused by 9 cuts due to reasons of censorship.
Tu’an Gu wants to put his assassination plan into action. In a secret place, one of his advisors shows him a rabbit getting stung by a gnat, which they "improved" with poison. The UK version lacks the rabbit screaming and dying in pain. The advisor is delighted with the result.
General Shuo is being lured away from the birthday party of the king under the pretense that his pregnant wife Zhuang Ji is in labor. So, he rides home as fast as possible. But Tu’an Gu's soldiers have set up a trap on his way. His horse trips over a rope stretched over the road. The horse falls down and knocks its head pretty hard on the ground.
The last Zhao leads his army into battle. Several shots of falling horses are missing in the UK version.
24 sec. in total