Red Cliff Reviews

  • May 25, 2022

    "He knows how to lead an army, but he has no friends." Okay, I'm sure Cao Cao would be real embarassed if he was hanging out in the high school cafeteria commanding the imperial forces of 3rd century China. Red Cliff feels like John Woo was given a big budget but no real creative freedom; you've got his trademark doves and slow motion but they're each used in such strange ways, almost like they're obligatory to match audience expectations rather than genuinely interesting or fun. An enormous scale, impressive battle scenes, and fun fight choreography are strangely offset by weird character interactions and a plot that you could put on autopilot for long stretches. There are so many scenes intended to give off this sense of impressive military strategy or combat ability (observing changes in the wind, practicing swordplay, lots of strategy maps, whatever), enough that they run into each other and lose all signficance and begin to feel satirical. While the money seems to have flowed like a river on this project, it's massively bloated and uninspired, though there is still plenty of entertainment in the swordplay. This movie ends with a double rainbow for some reason. (2/5)

    "He knows how to lead an army, but he has no friends." Okay, I'm sure Cao Cao would be real embarassed if he was hanging out in the high school cafeteria commanding the imperial forces of 3rd century China. Red Cliff feels like John Woo was given a big budget but no real creative freedom; you've got his trademark doves and slow motion but they're each used in such strange ways, almost like they're obligatory to match audience expectations rather than genuinely interesting or fun. An enormous scale, impressive battle scenes, and fun fight choreography are strangely offset by weird character interactions and a plot that you could put on autopilot for long stretches. There are so many scenes intended to give off this sense of impressive military strategy or combat ability (observing changes in the wind, practicing swordplay, lots of strategy maps, whatever), enough that they run into each other and lose all signficance and begin to feel satirical. While the money seems to have flowed like a river on this project, it's massively bloated and uninspired, though there is still plenty of entertainment in the swordplay. This movie ends with a double rainbow for some reason. (2/5)

  • Feb 11, 2022

    A truly epic war movie on par with the best that the west has to offer. There are some pacing problems, especially when entire scenes are filmed in slow motion, Further, the "surprises" are readily telegraphed and easily anticipated. However, for shere scale, this movie cannot be beat.

    A truly epic war movie on par with the best that the west has to offer. There are some pacing problems, especially when entire scenes are filmed in slow motion, Further, the "surprises" are readily telegraphed and easily anticipated. However, for shere scale, this movie cannot be beat.

  • Jan 26, 2022

    I enjoyed viewing the movie on my tv. The great music and spectacular battle scenes excite the senses! I enjoyed it.

    I enjoyed viewing the movie on my tv. The great music and spectacular battle scenes excite the senses! I enjoyed it.

  • Dec 12, 2021

    The best adaptation (not necessarily most faithful) of this battle I have ever seen

    The best adaptation (not necessarily most faithful) of this battle I have ever seen

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    Alec B Super Reviewer
    Aug 20, 2021

    There's a lot of set-up for the main action set pieces of the second film but there are still compelling character dynamics and battles. Woo is mythmaking here, so it is best to view the movie in that vein.

    There's a lot of set-up for the main action set pieces of the second film but there are still compelling character dynamics and battles. Woo is mythmaking here, so it is best to view the movie in that vein.

  • Jun 19, 2020

    I wrote a much longer review of the combined American Theatrical Version of Red Cliff where they cut the full 5-hour runtime in half (you can find that on my Letterboxd reviews.) I adored that version, and was delighted to finally watch the complete two-part international cut of the film. I won’t go into some of the finer details of why I loved this film as I addressed that thoroughly in the original review, but let’s talk about what’s different about this first half of the story. It seems that the bulk of the content they cut for American audiences came from this part of the film. There is so much character development, and exploration of motivations that is fleshed out here. I love getting to know these people in a deeper way, and seeing what makes them tick. There was one character in particular whose connection to the war seemed out of place and odd the first time I watched. But with this complete cut I discovered details about her name, her family, and so much more. She went from a glorified extra, to one of the main characters. Some of the battle-strategy and tactics that I loved from the movie are present here, although Part 1 feels a lot like the preamble to the story. I’m glad all of this exists, but I don’t think each chapter would work well on their own. Part 1 just leaves you wanting to know so much more, and to see the completion of the war. But there are still some amazing battles depicted in this part of the film. I love how John Woo blends some of his more superhuman fighting moments with the gritty war footage. It does a great job of making the key combatants stand out in a crowd. All of them are given amazing skills that some viewers might consider a bit too powerful. But I like watching one guy take on a whole troop of soldiers and laying waste to all of them with his finely-tuned skill. Red Cliff: Part 1 is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the exploration of the art of war. I am excited to see all the rest in Part 2. As a piece of the puzzle, I’m delighted to have seen Part 1, but from now on I’ll always watch the complete 5-hour epic in one shot.

    I wrote a much longer review of the combined American Theatrical Version of Red Cliff where they cut the full 5-hour runtime in half (you can find that on my Letterboxd reviews.) I adored that version, and was delighted to finally watch the complete two-part international cut of the film. I won’t go into some of the finer details of why I loved this film as I addressed that thoroughly in the original review, but let’s talk about what’s different about this first half of the story. It seems that the bulk of the content they cut for American audiences came from this part of the film. There is so much character development, and exploration of motivations that is fleshed out here. I love getting to know these people in a deeper way, and seeing what makes them tick. There was one character in particular whose connection to the war seemed out of place and odd the first time I watched. But with this complete cut I discovered details about her name, her family, and so much more. She went from a glorified extra, to one of the main characters. Some of the battle-strategy and tactics that I loved from the movie are present here, although Part 1 feels a lot like the preamble to the story. I’m glad all of this exists, but I don’t think each chapter would work well on their own. Part 1 just leaves you wanting to know so much more, and to see the completion of the war. But there are still some amazing battles depicted in this part of the film. I love how John Woo blends some of his more superhuman fighting moments with the gritty war footage. It does a great job of making the key combatants stand out in a crowd. All of them are given amazing skills that some viewers might consider a bit too powerful. But I like watching one guy take on a whole troop of soldiers and laying waste to all of them with his finely-tuned skill. Red Cliff: Part 1 is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the exploration of the art of war. I am excited to see all the rest in Part 2. As a piece of the puzzle, I’m delighted to have seen Part 1, but from now on I’ll always watch the complete 5-hour epic in one shot.

  • Jun 18, 2020

    If you like cruelty to animals this is the film for you. Disgusting

    If you like cruelty to animals this is the film for you. Disgusting

  • Jun 17, 2020

    A well shot and and entertaining movie based on the characters of Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Notice I didn't say based on a chapter, because John Woo took some big liberties with the plot and crafted something with his own spin. I can live with it and was often in awe of the spectacle of the war scenes, however, the female characters and what they've been given (ESPECIALLY Lin Chi-Ling) are overly sentimental and cheapened the entire experience. Lin can't act her way out of a paper bag and it is very distracting. Overall, still an epic tale that borders on 5 hours long.

    A well shot and and entertaining movie based on the characters of Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Notice I didn't say based on a chapter, because John Woo took some big liberties with the plot and crafted something with his own spin. I can live with it and was often in awe of the spectacle of the war scenes, however, the female characters and what they've been given (ESPECIALLY Lin Chi-Ling) are overly sentimental and cheapened the entire experience. Lin can't act her way out of a paper bag and it is very distracting. Overall, still an epic tale that borders on 5 hours long.

  • Jun 03, 2020

    Late in the eveing I started watching it on YouTube. 2:35 is a looong movie. Ha! I watched it all the to the end. Lots of action and fantastic camera work.

    Late in the eveing I started watching it on YouTube. 2:35 is a looong movie. Ha! I watched it all the to the end. Lots of action and fantastic camera work.

  • Jun 30, 2018

    5.7/10 — "Mediocre"/"Passable"

    5.7/10 — "Mediocre"/"Passable"