Red Cliff (2008)

Red Cliff  (2008)– Clarification: this review is for Part 1 of the International Cut. I don’t particularly like shortened versions of things so I skipped the U.S. edit. Part 2 is on my Netflix list so I’ll probably watch and review it shortly… All in all I’m pretty happy I went with the full version because there are a lot of small moments in the film I enjoyed which I have an odd feeling were first on the chopping block when splicing the two films into one. This film is about director John Woo getting his mojo back. After action classics like Hard Boiled and Face/Off, Woo has been in a bit of fallow period with Mission: Impossible II (which had Woo style but an idiotic story), Paycheck (which had an okay story but none of that Woo style), and Windtalkers (which just plain flat-out sucked). Red Cliff is a historical epic on a grand scale and features some pretty kick-ass battle scenes (which, let’s face it, is how many people evaluate their historical epics and who am I to tell them they’re wrong?). The Prime Minister Cao Cao (Zhang Fengyi) is abusing all the military might of the Han Dynasty to declare war on southern lords Liu Bei (You Yong) and Sun Quan (Chang Chen). The film is largely about the lead-up to the war and the titular battle of Red Cliff (which presumably occurs in the second movie). Liu Bei’s cheif strategist Zhu-ge Liang (Takeshi Kaneshiro) travels to form an alliance with Sun Quan and his viceroy Zhou Yu (the always great Tony Leung). If that sounds like a lot of characters to keep track of, it is and there are a whole lot more but I enjoyed this movie a lot and can’t wait to see the rest of it.

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