The Emperor and the Assassin is a Chinese historical romance film based on Jing Ke’s assassination attempt on the King of Qin, as described in Sima Qian’s Records of the Grand Historian, just before the unification of China under Qin. It was, at the time, the most expensive Chinese film ever made.
At the very end of the Warring States period Ying Zheng, the King of Qin is obssessed with his goal of unifying the seven kingdoms but the Kingdom of Yan is a major obstacle.
His concubine, Lady Zhao (Li Gong), concocts a devious plan of where she will arranging a bogus assassination attempt that will justify his invasion of Yan, without the other states uniting against him.
Lady Zhao’s ‘cover story’ is that she has been exiled as a traitor and is seeking revenge. Out of love for Ying Zheng, she goes to the lengths of having her face branded to give her story credibility.
Lady Zhao persuades Jing Ke to perform the assassination. But after witnessing Ying Zheng’s massacre of the children in her home state of Zhao, Lady Zhao desires the assassination in earnest. And, of course, her feelings for Jing Ke also develop.
The attempt fails, but Ying Zheng is furious when none of his courtiers attempt to stop the assassin and he is forced to kill Jing Ke himself. He is further saddened when Lady Zhao returns to Qin only to retrieve the body of Jing Ke for burial.
Apparently, there was a Lady Zhao at the time, but she was Ying Zheng’s mother not his concubine.
I have no makeup credits for this movie.