Red Cliff II (2009)

Red Cliff II (2009) — Everything promised in the first film is delivered in this one (save for one thing, sort of, but I’ll get to that later). Really though it’s one giant five hour film, but for some reason people don’t seem to have the patience for five-hour films hence the split… The battles in this film (specifically the one that consumes the last 45 minutes or so of the film) are spectacular on a scale befitting the epic size of the story. But as much as the first film, the movie places great emphasis on strategy and it’s great watching the allies anticipate Cao Cao’s moves, and Cao Cao figuring out what the allies do or don’t know. The strategy of ancient warfare is, for me, one of the more interesting parts of these types of movies. My one minor quibble with this movie is [SPOILER ALERT] the bad guy doesn’t die. Now I understand this.  The film is based on history and Cao Cao didn’t die at the battle of Red Cliff. In the name of historical accuracy I suppose that John Woo felt they could have him die (wouldn’t have stopped Tarantino). I don’t think films need to be historically accurate but I can respect it when they try. It’s just that over five hours he’s built up as such an unbelievable asshole (I’ll reserve judgment on the actual historical figure but as far as the movie’s concerned, he’s a prick). [THUS ENDETH SPOILAGE] This movie makes me rejoice that John Woo has returned to making good films with great style again. Whether he stays in China or returns to the States, I sincerely hope he can maintain this level of quality.

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