Posted on 7/20/11 09:13 PM
Director John Woo's enormous, 5 hour epic, "Red Cliff" contains just about everything that a story could possibly contain: a cast of tens of thousands, battle scenes that balance massive military maneuvers with sizzling one-on-one martial arts duels, romance, friendship, death and honor.
Drawing from the great Chinese literary work, "Romance of the Three Kingdoms"- source material for countless video games, manga comics, television series and feature films- this film explores the titular battle, aka Chibi.
As the tyrannical Prime Minister Cao Cao, acting with the blessings of the Han Emperor Xian, advances his army of 800,000 men into the Chinese Southlands, he is met by an alliance of his enemies, Zhou Yu and Liu Bei, and their relatively meager army of 50,000.
With the unrivalled power of his navy, overwhelming man advantage and long list of past victories, Cao Cao sets up camp across the Yangtze River, smugly self-assured.
However, his opponents include Zhu-ge Liang, one of history's most famous military strategists. With the help of Liang and the rest of the legendary generals and a bag of tricks to rival Felix the Cat's, Zhou Yu intends to turn the tables on the Prime Minister.
The film is a spectacle of the highest order, standing alongside such works as "Lawrence of Arabia", "Braveheart" and the "Lord of the Rings" series.
There are occasional quibbles to be had with some of the directorial choices, including some scenes that repeat similar shots to excess- e.g. soldiers turning their shields to blind their opponents, arrows being fired- until the viewer is mildly irritated.
However, mistakes are few and far between in this unique and utterly astounding cinematic experience.