Film Review: Red Cliff (Chi Bi)

Money has been really tight the past few weeks and now im officially unemployed regularly going on my favourite weekly pass time is going to be hard especially with all the big movies coming out. Saturday I really wanted to go and see this but decided against but now I dont have much to do I decided what the heck and went for it.

I was not disappointed. Red Cliff or Chibi its Chinese name was orginally released in China last year over 4 hours long but UK version has been watered down to 2 and half hours. The story is set in early 3rd century China when the country’s warlord prime minister Cao Cao (Fengyi Zhang) persuades emperor Han the only way to unite China is to declare war on the warlords of southern empires  Lui Bei (Young Yui) and Sun Quan (chen Chang). Cao Cao leads an army of million soldiers on war campgain through China to the south leaving no person alive, Zuge Liang (Takeshi Kaneshiro) Lui Bei Strategist goes on a mission plea to Sun Quan to form an allience and this is done only through convincing Viceroy Zhou Yu (Tony lueng, Hard Boiled Cop/Internal Affairs). Even with the alliance they are still outnumbered they will fight to the death at Red Cliff mountain, the ironic thing of the whole war is over a woman Sun Shangxiang (Wei Zhao).

This is a long film, but a true masterpiece  and definitely John Woo’s best film Since Hard Boiled Cop (Lueng/Chow Yun Fat) and even lesser extent Face Off. This is John Woo’s first venture back into his homeland cinema since the early 1990s and boy what a return! its a little like Sami Raimi’s return the horror genre with drag me to hell, a refreshing return to what Woo does best big action, big fighting all out drama!!! From the word go the film starts with a battle introducing Cao Cao and Lui Bei and all through the film it is virtually  all through it with the occasional human parts . The fight seens are just mind blowing with coegrapghy that would make lord of the rings and the matrix jealous. The cinematography is just wonderful with pannig out shot of Cao Cao’s Navy fleet sails up the Yangtzee river showing how massive his army is as they make there way to Red Cliff, the shots also show how beautiful the Chinese landscape is as well, (fortunately next month I will experience China  myself). The battle seens are violent and brutal but for those who dont have a strong stomach they dont over do it with the blood gore, but  what a end battle seen, this has got to be one of the best end battles I have seen in a long time and for us John Woo diehards out there theres even the a typical Woo scene when his films 2 main characters meet face to face and turn around and have guns in there faces but this time swords (i:e like Lueng and Fat in Hard Boiled Cop).

Be warned it is 150 minutes long pre buy your munchies before you go into the screen as you will be treated a wonderful visionary masterpiece. This film has been labelled the Asian Troy, I can see where there coming, it’s just a shame that many people have a shelfish attitude towards any foreign language films that are released here in UK, Id to them think again, when you realise the amount of inspiration Asia has given Western film  directors you would think twice and give these movies a look, Red Cliff you wont be dissappointed, excellent movie.

★★★★★| Paul Devine

War, Adventure, History | China, 2008 | 15 |EFD | 12th June 2009 (UK) | DirJohn Woo |
Tony Leung Chiu WaiTakeshi KaneshiroFengyi Zhang

Originally posted at The Peoples Movies | 16th June 2009

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