|Chi bi xia: Jue zhan tian xia 2009 China Red Cliff: Part II|
I love the Art of War, men of honor, tea ceremony languid pace of it which allows for fleshing out the characters and slowly developing the gravity of the situation. Sure, it's a little over-the-top at times, it's John Woo, but it's really easy to get into the film's depiction of historically important events and forgive a few personal excesses. The film is remarkably understated for the most part. All the performances are good. All the actors bring you into their world and make you care for them and their concerns. I even rooted for these guys when they went ONE against ONE THOUSAND ... something so silly I've never understood the prevalence nor appeal of it in film.
This film ignited an interest in Chinese historical epics I never thought I would develop. It prompted me to watch The Emperor and the Assassin, and that one is awesome. I've got a couple more in my queue. I think the key is picking the ones that are made for a Chinese rather than a Western audience. The long version of Red Cliff seems to be one of those films. It's slower and more poetic, which is what I like. If it's what you like and you've been keeping this one at bay for fear it's just another big, dumb Chinese historical videogame, give it a shot—and be sure to give it the long shot.
Summary: From the acclaimed director of "Mission: Impossible II," "Face/Off" and "The Killers," comes a dazzling, visionary epic based on the legendary Battle of Red Cliff, in which a force of fifty thousand defeated an army of nearly one million. In 208 A.D., in the final days of the Han Dynasty, shrewd Prime Minister Cao Cao convinced the fickle Emperor Han the only way to unite all of China was to declare war on the kingdoms of Xu in the west and East Wu in the south. Thus began a military campaign of unprecedented scale, led by the Prime Minister, himself. Left with no other hope for survival, the kingdoms of Xu and East Wu formed an unlikely alliance. Numerous battles of strength and wit ensued, both on land and on water, eventually culminating in the battle of Red Cliff. During the battle, two thousand ships were burned, and the course of Chinese history was changed forever.