China's often brutally honest critics and netizens are having a field day with Zhang Yimou's latest blockbuster for being so ... busty.
The 45-million dollar ancient epic titled Curse of The Golden Flower has been nicknamed Curse of the Golden Corset.
While the film's major scenes are a blaze of colour with bloody battles and sets decorated with tens of thousands of flowers, it's the actresses' cleavages that are getting the attention.
The most eye-popping role is played by Gong Li, the empress, who's breasts are so tightly wrapped that they appear ready to pop out of her costume.
Even the concubines and maids in the movie wear similarly revealing costumes.
"What I remember is not the fighting scenes or the acting, but the shiny white flesh," wrote netizen Bond in his review of the movie.
His sediments were echoed by many other writers who thought Gong's attire over-emphasized two of her assets but distracted from the movie's storyline of a fierce power struggle in ancient royal families.
Netizens have already come up with a parody in which Zhang Yimou is cast as the principal for a breast enlargement school.
Gong has defended the movie's wardrobe against criticisms of gratuitous showing of flesh. She says the costumes were designed after the fashions of the Tang dynasty during which the film is set in.
"They show the beauty of a woman's curves. There was no feeling of awkwardness or danger for us wearing the costumes."
Despite the controversy, Curse has set a new record for first-weekend release bringing 96 million yuan (US$12.5 million) in the first three days in theatres nationwide
While it's too early to tell if the producers' boast of breaking China's all time box record will come true, it seems unlikely they will go bust.
(Xinhua News Agency December 20, 2006)