Monday, July 21, 2008

Red Cliff (Part 1): Movie Review

This was a tough poster to find. Really is. Perhaps much more tougher than the one for The Dark Knight I showed. So now, lets play a game. Its called, "Count the White Doves in a John Woo movie" Haha. Knowing John Woo, he loves the doves so much that every movie he'll need them. But does it make the movie any better?

The story is loosely based on the Romance of the 3 Kingdoms. The battle of Red Cliff is the focus here, but with some surprising modifications to the story. As Cao Cao (Zhang FengYi) advances with his army to conquer the Wu territory, the forces of led by Liu Bei having suffered defeat is looking for an alliance with Sun Quan (Chang Chen) under the guidance and consultation of chief strategist Zhuge Liang (Takeshi Kaneshiro). Teamed with Guan Yu, Zhang Fei, Zhao ZhiLong/Zhao Yun (Hu Jun), the alliance led by Zhao Yu (Tony Leung) will go to war with Cao Cao's forces along with the help of Sun ShangXiang (Zhao Wei). Though people may not know why Cao Cao waged war, it is all actually due to Xiao Qiao (Lin Chi Ling), the proclaimed "most beautiful woman in the world". Will Cao Cao prevail? Or will the wind blow to the favors of the alliance?

The Cast
Tony Leung is back in a John Woo film. I liked how he did his character in Hardboiled, but this one feels a bit cheezy then standard. As a calm and strong viceroy, he displays the exact characteristics with a few minor setbacks during a few scenes. Takeshi on the other hand shouldn't be so well perceived either. The master strategist during that era should have been more calm, and less worried. Still, his performance is something to appreciate on a good degree of praise.

The supporting characters were great, but still possess some minor setbacks. Most notable and somehow surprising was actually Guan Yu and Zhang Fei. The 2 actors were somehow truly felt as if masters of the art they are on, especially with Zhang Fei. Liu Bei was also a setback, but perhaps we was actually somehow overshadowed by the presence of other big name actors. Zhao Wei and Lin ChiLing provide great eye candy with their Ok performance.

Presentation, storyline, sound, setting
Without a doubt, China's most expensive film truly delivers. The sets are amazing and truly a spectacular to look. The shots taken were all to emphasize on how brutal the Chinese during that era, and to show how tough was it all to build such beautiful monuments and fortresses to go with. Truly a high budget exprience to be held with. The story however, is actually a dissapointment. The quest for a man so obsessed with having a woman was more than enough to lead a whole army to war, which is by far ridiculous, even if it is in the oldern days. We believe other movies have done this correctly, but this modification doesn't truly fit with the whole epic story that was passed on to us. The dialouge proved to be amazing, and carefully made. The soundtrack and score are however amazing. Truly fits the setting that was established and brilliantly composed. The shots taken on the characters were somehow reused over and over again until it felt abit cumbersome to watch. There were some things that felt a bit off indeed, especially on how the people were acting.

I can't help but note that this serious war movie, actually hit the best notes when it came to jokes. It manages to take away the violence and cruelty of war that is very daunting and totally depressing to be seen. Despite this, there were lots of things that didn't really click in this movie, but perhaps there is a major reason for that. This is after all, only the first part. In fact, even audiences didn't think that this would actually have a sequel coming soon. Sadly, we're unsure of how soon.

The Art of Sun Tzu was used for war, and now its used for businesses. So how does John Woo pull this off? By doing a Sun Tzu for the modern era. For a war movie, it does hit the correct notes. But the acting is truly a bit hampering. I'd recommend this movie to see tactics of war by the Chinese, and also to see that this movie should also take a step back and chill with the jokes. Must watch wouldn't really cut it, as The Dark Knight is more fitting. This is only the first, lets hope the next one ties it up on the Red Cliff.

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