In 2008, Zhang Yimou made a big impression with the direction of the spectacular opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics. Film lovers were not surprised; Zhang had already proven himself to be the master of the spectacle with his martial arts films Hero and House of the Flying Daggers, filled with breathtakingly choreographed (sword) fight scenes. He confirms his mastery with his new film, Shadow, shot with many deep tones of black and white.
In China's Three Kingdoms era (AD 220-280), the city of Jing in the kingdom of Pei has been conquered by General Yang from a neighbouring empire. Pei's young, indecisive king has resigned to this fact, contrary to Zhou Jing, Pei's army commander. This prompts the king to discharge his commander from service, not knowing that he is in fact firing his double. The real commander is hiding somewhere in the castle to recover from an injury. Together with his wife and his body double, he works out a plan to liberate the city.