Historical dramas are tricky and typically so heavy on plot that they lose sight of their characters, but Emperor provides a strong character study, an emotional romance, and a morality tale that all hold equal impact and feel unforced. Matthew Fox carries the film with a very impressive lead performance, demonstrating emotional complexity while at the same time furthering the restraint of a man torn by his country and his loved one’s morals. This is a narratively simplistic film on the surface, but the themes that emerge come full-circle near the end. I find that an important, redeeming element of a film, and this one showcases yet again that a fundamentally strong film can be immensely enjoyable.
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