Red Cliff Summary, Quotes, Review

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Once upon a time, China wasn't world's equivalent of that kid in class who never studies in class, copies (*cough*pirates*cough*) answers for everything and still aces his grades. Once upon a time, the rest of the world copied from how China did things.

Specially in warfare.

Long before the western civilizations got their act right in waging war, the Chinese were already marching battalions in formation, using tactics and weaponry that would not be used for another thousand years - rockets, guns, automated weaponry, psychological warfare.

Red Cliff is a movie set during that time and answers for the world, what is it like to wage war on the other side of the world, where kung fu, shaolin, and General Tso's Chicken came from?

Red Cliff is a four hour two-part epic film depicting the events leading up to the battle of Chi Bi, a pivotal event in the Three Kingdoms arc of China's history that's been made famous by the novel Romance of The Three Kingdoms, and more recently, the bastardized Dynasty Warriors series.

The movie is directed by John Woo and is considered to be his comeback film. Personally, I consider this movie as his apology tot he world for making the movie WindTalkers where Nicholas Cage pranced around two hours of a farcical depiction of the WW2 battle of Iwo Jima.

And when it comes to apologies, I believe John Woo has more than redeemed himself.

With a gargantuan budget, a star-studded cast, and an epic depiction of one of the finest moments in Chinese history, Red Cliff offers an unforgettable experience for both history enthusiasts and casual moviegoers alike.

The story of the first installment is about the crucial events before the battle of Chi Bi, mostly focusing on the brilliant strategist Zhuge Liang and his methodology in uniting the two kingdoms Wu and Shu Han to rebel against the antagonizing kingdom of Wei. To be honest, Zhuge Liang is almost godlike in his cleverness in this movie, but I'm not complaining.

For those not in the know, the Three Kingdoms age is one of the most celebrated arcs of Chinese history so many versions of the story have been made before. It's notable however, that so far, all of them have honestly sucked one way or another, and as a fanboy, I can tell you that this movie satisfies even the most hardcore of followers.

I believe that the strongest aspect of this movie is actually its ability to simply things enough for the movie. Despite the length of four hours, it manages to present the events in the most detailed way possible without bogging down the casual viewers with the nerdy stuff. (if you try to read this story in the Romance of The Three Kingdoms book, for example, you'd have covered 20+ characters on the first six pages alone)

The depictions of battles are amazingly detailed, although exaggerated, and you will easily see the difference between warfare in the west and the east. Emphasis on strategy and form are well seen, as well as fluid warefare usually absent on the counterparts of the same timeperiod.

Another interesting difference of east and west martial philosophies shown in this film is the active participation of generals in battle. If ever this movie reminds me of something, it's that once upon a time, leadership meant being better than everybody else under your command.

Even fictional battles for Lord of The Rings wasn't this inventive. Cinematography wise, battles are turned into an artform by John Woo, with violence and gore only used for emphasis and not as a main form of entertainment.

Outside battle, personal and political affairs are shown interestingly and are hardly boring. If you can get past the face of Zhuge Liang looking like a Chinese Knockoff of Orlando Bloom, you can really appreciate the meticulousness of Woo in making sure even the non-combat scenes are interesting.

Of course the movie is far from perfect. The producers claim the movie is based on the historical account of the event, some inaccuracies are still present, albeit negligible. Acting by the extras are of mixed quality, although one can learn to overlook them when necessary.

Overall, the movie is a very fun treat for both seasoned followers of the Three Kingdoms story and for new initiates. Red Cliff is an icon that proves to the world that when it comes to epic things, the West has never been in monopoly.

Everybody who reads this article up to this point should no longer be wasting time and should be watching the film right afterward.

Yes, damn it, it's that awesome.

1 comment:

reggie said...

Hi very very nice review for the movie Red Cliff. Really, you are right that is is very beautiful and wonderful war movie. Great story !!! Loved it...I watched it more than 10 times. Seriously, I love to watch Red Cliff Movie repeatedly.


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