matt lynch’s review published on Letterboxd:
casts nature as mysterious, tangled but carefully deliberate, and casts reformers combating totalitarianism as potential ghosts, the past returning to claim its place, the dead returning to vanquish their living betrayers. Hu famously continues to restore to film from Chinese literature the female knight, another piece of the past that now points forward. and the male hero finds his strength only after he sleeps with her and meets the Abbot; the power here is sexual, literally balls to bones, naturally emanating from within. the villain, corrupt and unseen, is a eunuch; his power is baseless, empty, founded on lies. sex vs death. the film folds themes in so gradually that you truly float down the river without ever seeming to get wet.