Shadow Magic

Critics Consensus

Charmingly sweet, Shadow Magic captures the sense of wonder of audiences experiencing the world of motion pictures for the first time.



Total Count: 49


Audience Score

User Ratings: 902
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Movie Info

Chinese-born, American-based director Ann Hu debuts with this epic historical drama about the introduction of motion pictures to China during the beginning of the 20th century. The film is based on a true story of Liu Jung (Xia Yu), a Peking photographer who struggles to start a film industry in China in spite of the strong anti-Western sentiment of the time. At the film's outset, Liu Jung is scolded by his autocratic boss Master Ren (Liu Peiqi) for his obsession with Western gizmos after he brings home a junked Victrola. During a photo session with China's most famous opera star, Lord Tan (Li Yusheng), Liu Jung runs into Raymond Wallace (Jared Harris), a mysterious Brit who is hell-bent on introducing movies (called "shadow magic") to the Emperor. As soon as Liu Jung sees his first frame, he is hooked on the medium and committed to Wallace's scheme. This film was screened at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival.


Jared Harris
as Raymond Wallace
Liping Lu
as Madame Ren
Yukui Zhang
as Lao Chang
Qingzhuo Fang
as Widow Jiang
Yu Xia
as Liu Jinglun
Li Bin
as Empress Ci Xi
Peiqi Liu
as Master Ren
Li Yusheng
as Lord Tan
Zhang Yukui
as Lao Chang
Mu Qi
as Jewelry Tower
Li Bin
as Empress Ci Xi
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Critic Reviews for Shadow Magic

All Critics (49) | Top Critics (19) | Fresh (35) | Rotten (14)

Audience Reviews for Shadow Magic

  • Jun 14, 2012
    The story of the introduction of film to a turn of the century China weary of and hostile to Western encroachment is framed by a tale of a young man struggling with his wonder with new technology versus a class system that insists he "know his place". Although thin in places the subject matter still charms.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer
  • Nov 13, 2007
    [font=Century Gothic]In "Shadow Magic," it is Peking in 1902 where Liu(Xia Yu), the chief photographer for a prestigious photo studio, is seeking innovative ways to help, including playing a recording of western classical music during a photo shoot. His boss(Liu Peiqi) thinks he needs to settle down and arranges a marriage between Liu and the Widow Jiang(Fang Qingxhuo). Fearing a fate worse than death, Liu starts assisting Raymond Wallace(Jared Harris), an Englishman with a new invention called a movie projector.[/font] [font=Century Gothic][/font] [font=Century Gothic]Inspired by a true story, "Shadow Magic" is an interesting and overlong bit of history that is let down by a thin plot. The power of the images speak for themselves as they capture unfamiliar lands and peoples who are thousands of miles away. What the movie is concerned with is the opening of China to new ideas from the West but a hundred years later, there is too much of this, especially Hollywood films that flood the market. At the same time, there are much less Chinese films or other forms of culture flowing back the other way. [/font]
    Walter M Super Reviewer

Shadow Magic Quotes

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