Jun. 14th, 2009

williamjm: (Default)
I went to see Red Cliff at the cinema. Overall, I thought it was an entertaining film despite a few odd moments. The film is almost all in Chinese with English subtitles, which made it a bit disconcerting that the opening narration and another narration slightly later in the film were done in English by an American who sounded very much like the stereotypical American trailer narrator, which is a bit out-of-place in a film about 3rd Century AD Chinese history. Despite that unpromising start, the film was pretty good once it got going, I was half-expecting it to be quite like previous Chinese historical epics like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon or Hero but it didn't have much of the jumping-around-everywhere wire-work in the battle scenes, instead it felt a bit more like a Chinese version of Braveheart. There were some very impressive battle scenes and the directing and cinematography were both very good. It's directed by John Woo and the chose a possibly slightly unfortunate poster quote "The best John Woo film in years", which sounds like very faint praise, I'd say it was a better film than any of his American films. It did lack his trademark 'man jumping through air while firing two guns' shot, although he does still seem to obsessed with doves. The acting was also good, although one of the lead actors looked oddly like a Chinese Orlando Bloom which I found a bit distracting. Overall, the plot is fairly good, although it could have had a bit more time spent on character development and it did have a few odd moments - such as the bit where the main villain decides that instead of attacking straight away with his numerically vastly superior army, he is going to set up camp on the opposite side of the river from the Red Cliff fortress and hold a football tournament.

Some of the plot weaknesses might be explained by something I found out from IMDB afterwards - apparently the original Asian release is two 2-hour films, but the American/European release is single 2-and-a-half hour film allegedly because 'American audiences might be confused by four hours of Chinese names'. That 1.5 hours of the film have been removed might explain the low ratio of character development to action. I hope they release the full version for the DVD release, I'm curious to see what is missing.


williamjm: (Default)

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