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Shadow 2018

Shadow | Ying | Jing | Jeng


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SHADOW centers on a king who, during the Three Kingdoms Period is sent on exile against the wishes of the public. The cunning commander in chief of the king believes that the only way to save the throne is to raise a 'shadow commander'.

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About the Shadow 💬

''Due to endless wars and internal power struggles, Chinese kings and nobles faced the constant threat of assassination.

To survive, they secretly employed surrogates known as 'shadows'.

Shadows served their masters bravely by risking their lives and embracing death.

Absent from the annals of history, they lived in obscurity and vanished without a trace.

This is the story of a Shadow.

The story begins as Madam, wife of the Commander of Pei Kingdom, faces the most difficult choice of her life.''

Always coming up with the most fascinating wuxia films, Yimou Zhang returns this time with a feature set in the 3rd century.

In a kingdom ruled by a young and unpredictable king, the military commander has a secret weapon: a ''shadow'', a look-alike who can fool both his enemies and the King himself. Now he must use this weapon in an intricate plan that will lead his people to victory in a war that the King does not want.

SHADOW is inspired from the traditional Chinese art of ink brush painting.


This is the story of a body double. Referred to as ''shadows'', body doubles have existed since ancient times. A shadow must be ready to spring into action at that critical moment when his master's life hangs in the balance; a shadow must seamlessly meld with the real, so that true and false can't be distinguished.

Is he a man, standing in the light? Or a ghost, hiding in the darkness. Who will live? Who will die?

Yimou Zhang


Q: Tell us about the story behind SHADOW? How did the idea come to you?

Yimou Zhang: This is a film about a body double, a concept that I have always been interested in. But I also found that despite the numerous period films released in China every year, none have addressed this subject matter - which strengthened my urge to make this one.

Q: The film is a reimagining of the Jingzhou epic, The Three Kingdoms - what are some of the central themes of the classic tale that inspired the film?

Yimou Zhang: China is a country with a long historical past, and many of its films and television series are inspired by true historical events or fictionalized versions of history. However, we are all bound by invisible ''laws of history,'' which I would never ignore. I wouldn't create baseless stories.

This film is ultimately about struggle, survival, dire predicaments and wild ambition - how a common man can manage not only to survive amidst the power games of kings and the aristocracy, but even manage to turn defeat into victory. The king is a king - all the world's kings are similar. On the one hand, he is someone at the top of the hierarchy, surrounded by subjects who are vying for power and position. On the other hand, he is also just a man, with all of the ordinary human emotions.

Q: You have often been considered as a director of 'women's stories' - would you say this is true?

Yimou Zhang: I would say this is correct. Women often play important roles in my stories. In SHADOW, we see a woman at the center of a vortex, caught between her husband and his 'shadow', between power and love, while she undergoes this emotionally complex journey. She is forced to make choices from the beginning to the end, even through to the very last seconds of the story.

Q: What was the inspiration behind the visual cinematic style of Shadow?

Yimou Zhang: The visual style of SHADOW is inspired by the ink brush painting techniques of Chinese painting. I have always wanted to experiment with this unique style of ink and wash effect; it looks very 'Chinese' to me. The scenes with rain, in particular, has a very fluid texture that create a unique ambiance.

Shadow Movie Details 🎥

Directed by

Yimou Zhang

Writing Credits

Yimou Zhang

Wei Li


Chao Deng

Li Sun

Ryan Zheng

Qianyuan Wang

Jingchun Wang

Jun Hu

Xiaotong Guan

Lei Wu

Bai Feng

Music by


Cinematography by

Xiaoding Zhao

Genres: Action, Adventure, Drama, War

Countries: China, Hong Kong

Shadow Official Trailer

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