|Chi bi 2008 China Red Cliff|
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: In the early third century, the land of Wu is invaded by the warlord Cao Cao and his million soldiers. The ruler of Wu, Sun Quan, calls on the rival warlord Liu Bei for help, but their two armies are still badly outnumbered. However, the Wu strategist Zhou Yu sees that Cao Cao's army is unused to battling on the sea, which may just give them a chance if they can exploit this weakness properly.