Thursday, April 15, 2010

Red Cliff

International Version

aka Chi Bi
John Woo, 2008, 5 hrs, China (7.7*)

This is a giant-scaled and expensive war epic about a Han Dynasty war in 208 A.D. involving three Chinese empires. The Hans of the north invade a southern empire to quell smaller warlords, two of which form an alliance, but they are still overwhelmed in numbers by 800,000 to just 50,000. The invading king is really after the wife of the southern leader, a beauty he saw just once, but he also has a painting of her for inspiration. Lin Chi-Ling is appropriately breath-taking in this role, with a delicate flower-like beauty; she's a moving work of art herself and worthy of causing wars.

Lacking strength, the southern alliance, led by warrior Tony Leung and strategist Takeshi Kaneshiro decides to use a plan to force a decisive naval and land battle at a fortress on the Yellow River called Red Cliff, with the emphasis on attacking the invading fleet. Most of the film is a buildup to this battle, showing preparations in great detail. The special effects of the warfare are terrific, as this was one of the most expensive Chinese films ever made at 80 million, which means it looks like a 500 m film from the west. However, there is not much story here, at least nothing compelling, so this will please fans of war films due to the massive technical achievement but will not be that engrossing to more general fans.

There are two versions of this massive war epic from famed Hong Kong action director John Woo; make sure you see the complete five-hour film on 2 discs called the "international version", not the shortened "theatrical release".


karan bhatia,  June 24, 2010 at 1:43 PM  

this movie always keeps you thinking whats next

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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.

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