I've always loved foreign cinema, especially the Asian culture; it's so diverse and unique that one could spend years and years studying and still barely scratch the surface. The history is vast and rich, and the films of Asian cinema always bring that to light. There's something about the craftmanship of such films that just feels so much more visceral and rewarding as compared to most American movies. And with Shadow we find director Zhang Yimou ("Hero", "The Great Wall") at his truest form, giving us his most visually satisfying, narratively complex, and action packed movie to date. The film does have a slow start, building the world that we're in and the characters and what their motives are. It's a layered narrative that requires a good bit of attention, each character giving meaning to the scene. Although the pacing is a tad off, it's always an absorbing watch due to the gorgeous cinematography, from the sweeping landscapes to the dense foggy atmosphere this movie just looks phenomenal. I found myself wanting the biggest screen possible to watch such a spectacle. There's a scene when opposing soldiers use their umbrella swords and twirl their way down a cobblestone street all the while firing their crossbows at the enemy, it's bonkers but it's so stylish and inventive. I thought I'd seen it all by now, but Shadow only goes to show there's probably a lot more to see. Overall Shadow is an exceptionally well made martial arts film, one that uses slow burn to a wonderful effect, never distancing itself from the viewer, but still able to build a strong hero and villain organically.