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Red Cliff: Movie Review

“Epic” is probably a word that most Filipinos and Asians are not familiar with when it comes to films. When was the last time an Asian film was labeled as an epic (name one if you can please)? It surprised us then to find out about “Red Cliff” – a film that was originally released late last year and early this year in other parts of the Orient. The total running time was a mind-boggling four hours that they had to separate it into two films. Again, they HAD to separate it into two parts – now that is E-P-I-C. Too bad though that even if we are historically very willing viewers of Chinese films, our country gets the dumbed-down Western version with more than a third of the original being cut. Is “Red Cliff” still worth it even though this is a very different version than originally intended? Read on to find out our opinion about it.


Movie opens with Cao Cao asking permission from the emperor of the Han dynasty to organize a mission in order to stop the warlords creating chaos in the South. He claims that there is a need to unite the whole of China so the invasion is necessary but in reality, his motives are purely personal. After Cao Cao’s attack with the mighty warrior of the south Liu Bei, the latter’s strategist Kongming (Zhuge Ling in other versions of the film) thinks that the only hope to defeat Cao Cao and his army is if they will form an alliance with Sun Quan. Their combined army of 50,000 are to face the North’s 800,000 men. The Southerners, armed with their greatest warriors, must now do all they can to defend their land in the epic battle at Red Cliff.

The verdict? One word sums it up: Impressive. We weren’t shocked when we found out that they spent $80 Million making this film as the whole movie was beautifully shot from start to finish. John Woo definitely didn’t disappoint with this movie which is his first film in China. This movie will be remembered for its showcase of its classic battle of the two kingdoms at sea. What sets it apart from other scenes is that the final battle was done at night. This is probably the first time we have seen a battle like this without the sunlight and yet, the movie was able to show this very effectively. The actors were all good and the fight scenes and stunts will leave you satisfied and yet at the same time, wanting more. This film will definitely cater both Western and Asian audiences. A minor setback is that we wished to have seen the full version as some scenes will leave you wondering how it happened. But then again, we recommend this version as well. This is definitely a must see, and a movie that will make us Asians proud.

Rating: 5 reels





Why you should watch it:
- witness martial arts action and stunts at its best
- great cinematography and artistry

Why you shouldn’t watch it:
- you might still find it too long (even though this is the edited version already)
- if you’ve never liked "Once Upon a Time in China" and "Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon"
- heavily cut version is not too invasive but still misses on some scenes


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