John Woo (Mission: Impossible II, Face/Off) is back and his latest film is truly an Asian epic.
Red Cliff, in my opinion, deserves its rightful place in the pantheon of modern Asian films like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Hero, and House of the Flying Daggers. From the great scale to the combination of the choreography of kung-fu movies, the film has some of the most breathtaking scenes in Asian films. The cast is also top notch: Tony Leung (Lust, Caution), Takeshi Kaneshiro, Chang Chen, and Zhao Wei are just some of the popular actors in the movie.
The story of Red Cliff is based on the historical accounts of the "Battle of Red Cliffs", a turning point in Chinese imperial history. As the small southern kingdoms prepare the invasion of the powerful North Kingdom, the two nations must forge an uneasy alliance to maintain their freedom. John Woo's version can be likened to a film version of Sun Tzu's Art of War where the warring factions use tactics to upstage the opponent.
However, I felt the movie was too long (more than two hours) and the "punch-counter-punch" dynamic gets a little too tiring. I wish they showed the movie in two parts like they did in China and the rest of Asia. One more thing: the dubbing and voice acting for the English version that I watched was superb.
With no big Hollywood epic in sight, John Woo's Red Cliff is a must watch of epic movie fans and I think it will satisfy fans of Lord of the Rings and 300.
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