Common Sense Note
Parents need to know that kids who liked Hero or House of Flying Daggers will want to see this movie. But while Zhang Yimou directed all of them, this new film is very different -- it's less focused on the martial arts action than on adult themes like betrayal and revenge. Violence includes poisoning, swordfights, knifings, and armies of assassins mustered for combat on palace. There are plenty of bloody results all around.
The empress is having an affair with her stepson; Wan and Chan have secret affair (they're surprised while half-dressed); the empress' cleavage is frequently visible.
The emperor is poisoning his wife with a fungus in her medicine (she coughs and faints occasionally); swordplay is swift, bloody, and climactic; characters have scars/brands indicating previous abuses; some one-on-one fighting (punching, slapping, kicking); assault by army of assassins features flaming arrows, hooks, spears, knives, and swords; a character stabs himself in the throat (he lives, with bloody bandages visible in later scenes); a character commits suicide by slashing his own throat (gruesome but brief).
The emperor and empress plot against each another, using their children as pawns; corruption in palace among royals and servants; violent showdown leaves everyone hurt or dead.
Drugs / Tobacco /