ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – R – Red Cliff (2008)

Director: John Woo

Writer: John Woo, Khan Chan, Cheng Kuo, Heyu Sheng (Screenplay) Guanzhong Luo (Novel)

Starring: Tony Leung, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Fengyi Zhang, Chen Chang, Wei Zhao, Jun Hu

 

Plot: The first chapter of a two-part story centered on a battle fought in China’s Three Kingdoms period (220-280 A.D.).

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Spectacular Battles but Hard to Follow

 

Story: Red Cliff starts in the year 220 A.D. with Sun Quan (Chang) sending his army lead by General Cao Cao (Zhang) to defeat the southlands to create a peace within China. The other sides of the battle come from Zhuge Liang (Kaneshiro) who joins a union with Zhou Yu (Leung) to stop this battle from taking over the country.

As the battle rages on we come to the final showdown as the Red Cliff, one of the most famous battles in Chinese history and if you don’t know history you will be left wondering who won.

 

Thoughts on Red Cliff

 

Characters – Zhou Yu is a great warrior that eliminates any enemy that comes close to threatening him. Zhuge Liang is the calm tactical leader that brings two sides together in battle to stop the general. Cao Cao is the general trying to win the battle against the Southlands, he is aggressive in his tactics which would eventually be his weakness.

PerformanceThe performance from the whole cast are good throughout the film, we get to see the combat skills from some of the cast and their abilities to look like the calmest person in the room in other.

StoryThe story is focused on one of the greatest battles in Chinese history, it bought change to the nation and most importantly showed how organised and deadly the three sides of the battle were. If I am honest I did find this hard to follow as I haven’t done much in research into Chinese history but other than that if you just look to watch the battle sequences this is a visual over storytelling experience.

Action/History/WarThe action is the highlight of this film because the sequences are amazing to watch, we do get to look into history which is fine with the war side of the film showing us just how far the three sides would go for victory.

SettingsThe settings are mostly military based as we see both sides prepare for the battle around the iconic location of Red Cliff.

Special EffectsThe effects are used to show in the increased number in battles which looks great through the film.

Scene of the Movie – The arrows on the river.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It was hard to follow at times.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good action packed historical film but it does drift into the land of hard to follow at other times.

 

Overall: Breath taking battles but difficult storyline.

Rating

 

 

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)

crouchingDirector: Ang Lee

Writer: Hi-Ling Wang, James Schamus, Kuo Jung Tsai (Screenplay) Du Lu Wang (Book)

Starring: Yun-Fat Chow, Michelle Yeoh, Ziyi Zhang, Chen Chang, Sihung Lung, Pei-Lei Cheng

 

Plot: Two warriors in pursuit of a stolen sword and a notorious fugitive are led to an impetuous, physically skilled, adolescent nobleman’s daughter, who is at a crossroads in her life.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Brilliant Visual Experience

 

Story: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon starts when Master Li Mu Bai (Chow) a warrior turned devoted monk medicates great sorrow leading him to ask Yu Shu Lien (Yeoh) to give up him sword to a trusted friend Sir Te (Lung). Putting the sword in safety Shu Lien meets a young governor’s daughter Jen Yu (Zhang) who dreams of being a warrior like Li Mu Bai and Shun Lien.

When the sword is stolen, it appears the Jade Fox (Cheng) has returned and this bring Master Li Mu Bai out of retirement to avenge his master’s murder at the hands of the Jade Fox. Li Mu Bai and Shu Lien go in search for the sword as the two get to face an enemy they didn’t see coming with powers unlike anything they have fought before, one that can be trained to continue their art of combat in Jen Yu who for now has been led astray by the Jade Fox.

 

Thoughts on Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

 

Characters/PerformanceMaster Li Mu Bai is a character that we have come to identify in martial arts films for years, the one who has complete calmness in his action and always in control during combat. It is the two female lead characters Yu Shin Lien and Jen Yu that all reach the next level for the characters in a world that is often male dominated having these two character in a mix of good versus potential evil on Jen Yu is a character that could go either way through the film.

The performances from Michelle Yeoh and Ziyi Zhang are both brilliant as they both show their skills in the arts along with the men in this film. Yun-Fat Chow is also great through the film is the male lead at a time when we all wanted a new leading man for the martial arts film.stars

StoryWith the story we dive back into ancient China to see how the beliefs between the people with honour and training could create the moment you needed for peace. We do have an action story in here about how easy it could be to be led astray by the darker side of these abilities as we watch the two heroes of the story try to show the young soon to be master the right path to follow while she is being led astray by the villainous Jade Fox. The story is easy to follow and you can full understand how important it is to have both sides of the story being told to teach Jen Yu the right path.

Action/Adventure/Fantasy/RomanceThe action is unlike anything you would have seen before which is great to see because too many films just copy and paste action together. The romance side of the story is also strong because it tests the characters to push their honour for love with the fantasy coming from how the action is constructed.

SettingsThe breath-taking ancient China setting makes this one of the most visual treats you will see in any film.

Special EffectsWhile mostly practical effects with wires the effects captured between the character’s fight sequences are brilliant through the whole film.genre

Final ThoughtsEasily one of the best martial arts films you will see, based on more than just the fight sequences but the training to make it happen.

 

Overall: Nominated for Best Picture and you can see why it was.

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