"Shadow" is famous for its cinematography, and the critics love the way it looks and the fights. What they don't mention as much is that the first hour of the film is spent setting up palace intrigue and inter-kingdom politics, and it's both poorly explained, boring, and over-acted. But most of the last hour is spent on fights and sneak attacks and betrayals and plots within plots.
It's true, the cinematography is ... extraordinary, but that's not entirely a compliment. It's pretty, and well done, but I didn't love it. It's NOT black-and-white: it's heavily de-saturated colour. We almost see the colour of human skin, the green of bamboo, and we're allowed to see blood. There are many fights, complete with implausible hand-mounted crossbows, and utterly absurd bladed umbrellas of death. The umbrellas functioning as shown in the film is about as probable as the Flying Guillotine working, and my inability to suspend disbelief has a lot to do with this review.
Everyone in the movie is chewing the scenery, and the betrayals and grand tragedy of the whole thing were just the icing on the cake. I really hated this one. "Hero" was a Zhang Yimou movie worth seeing: this one is not.