REVIEW: “Red Cliff”

Posted: September 23, 2008 by V in Review
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I’ve taken extended leave, after my internship I’m gallivanting about until December, nonetheless I know my duty, and so, here’s my token contribution to the summer movie party — partially fulfilling Susanna’s demands, I present “Red Cliff”, the most expensive Asian film ever made. That’s what they said, and I’m not gonna voice contradiction after what I saw. -v July 08
I wrote this review about two months ago, just to show you all how very on-top of things I am. You can all thank Susanna for this one, but just so you all know, I’m only doing this because I’m out of money, and waiting for a bus to take me to the airport. -v

Enraged by Susanna’s laughable challenge and derision towards the number one country of Taiwan China -insert offended Asian country here-, I immediately rushed out to watch this amazing piece of Asian cinematography in action. The fact that I got Monday off because of a typhoon is irrelevant. Also, my belated realization that “Red Cliff” will be released State-side, means nothing, as it is clipped of all the delicacy of Chinese nuance and suffers the indignity in the abbreviation of all the character that embodies Chinese epics. In Asia, this film is 2 1/2 hours, twice. The second part comes out in December. When its released in the US, it’ll be 2 1/2 hours, total. RUINED I TELL YOU! This horrendous theatrical savaging of Chinese history also means I don’t owe anyone a yurt. Least of all that mooch, Susanna.

“Red Cliff” is apparently based off the 13th century historical novel, “Romance of the Three Kingdoms” which in turn, is based off the official 3rd century historical text “Chronicle of the Three Kingdoms”. Now China may be lacking in a lot of things, but the one of the few things it has no shortage of is history. China has buttloads of history, around 12 major dynasties worth of history from 2000 BC ranging to the 1900s. China also likes to remind people, both Chinese and otherwise, of their extensive history. This is most evident in their love of historical dramas, historical movies, historical operas, and their extensive schooling in history.

However, having lacked this essential element of Chinese-iosity, I found it difficult to comprehend how Asia can continue to watch their favorite historical characters fight the same historical enemies with the same historical high-points to culminate in the same historical outcome. My immediate comparison was of watching several different versions of George Washington crossing the Deleware every year. Good thing is China is sitting on a gold mine of recorded historical movie material. Suck it America (and also, Australia)!

So this movie boasts an all around excellent cast. Also, it can register itself as an official Asian Historical Movie™, as it includes at least three long wispy beards, at least two characters sporting MANLY CHINESE EYEBROWS, and yards of billowing fabrics. For those of you who are unaware, the Chinese can also call up winds to follow them for dramatic effect. Preparation requires several years of painstaking silk weaving and delicate embroidery followed closely by meteorological study – we call it “dramatic wind effect”. Most frequent applications include declaring war, claiming a kingdom, watching the sun set over a battlefield, or cooking stirfry.

For those interested in the plot, Cao Cao (pronounced Tzau Tzau, not Cow Cow), presses the weak willed Han Emperor to declare him commander of the Imperial army: purpose, to crush southern lords (and assumed rebels) Liu Bei (initial target) and Sun Quan (side quest!). These guys (lets call them the big cheese — I miss cheese so much…), aren’t so much the main characters of the film, as their advisor/generals Zhu Ge Liang, and Zhou Yu, played respectively by Takeshi Kaneshiro and Tony Leung. For those of you interested in Chinese cinema. These roles (in order) were originally offered to Tony Leung and Chow Yun Fat. I’m going to sound really Chinese when I say this, but it to have Leung and Fat play opposite each other as main characters, best friends, and rivals (eventually to turn vicious) would be a dream come true. In fact, I believe that Chinese people all over the world would throw festivals in joy. Almost like that last time my dream almost came true with Chan and Li (but not so much a failure).

Right, back to the movie. The first half of this epic film is the setup. Each army is gearing up, alliances must be made, historical references referenced, silk must be fluttered, and wispy beards stroked. Cao Cao’s military might advances on the allied forces of (who am I kidding, even I don’t remember their names) the big cheeses. Land battle clashes and cinematographicaly magnificent tactics are applied, and the calvary and foot soldiers are thwarted. Its not the end yet! Cao Cao’s massive fleet continues to advance upon Red Cliff! The grand conclusion to this already resolved battle is to come out in December. Though I belittle, its actually intensely suspenseful, I’m flying back through Taiwan partially because I need to see the ending of this film.

Tony Leung’s eyebrow dares you not to see “Chi Bi”


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