As another reviewer put it, this movie was very similar to Dune. Very interesting comparison, since Raffaella De Laurentiis produced them both. This was her first project right after Dune. Both were sweeping epic sagas with multiple intertwined plotlines. Both should have been six or eight hour mini series and not feature films. As with Dune, you will find that if you have not read the book, you will not understand the movie. However, if you have read the book, then the movie isn't all that bad. James Clavell's 'Asian Saga' is one of my favorite book series, so I bought this movie cheap just to see it. The characters are like old friends to me, so I didn't think that the movie was all that bad. I realized while watching it though, that someone who had not read the book would not be able to keep up with all of the plot points. My suggestion to you is to read the book, then watch the movie. You will discover two things; first it's a super good book. Second, this movie had everything going for it in cast and settings; it just had too much story to tell in too short a time. It definitely should have been a six-hour miniseries.