Published on May 17th, 2010 | by Chris0
Red Cliff: International Version (2009, Blu Ray)
When it comes to truly epic war movies a few come to mind. Lawrence of Arabia, The Longest Day, maybe even Patton or Band of Brothers.... But this is almost the very definition of epic. Weighing in at nearly *five* hours long, Red Cliff does not fail to deliver.
Based on a battle from Chinese history that took place ~209AD, its probably not too well known outside of the region. Hell, I didn't know anything about it until this. I think, though I'll leave the history lesson to Wikipedia, in The Battle of Red Cliffs...
Despite its length, I never found any part of Red Cliff to be particularly dull or boring. There's enough going on plot-wise, battle-wise, and imagery-wise to keep you going. Some of the f/x shots are awe inspiring in their scope. And yeah, there are some funny bits in there to boot. Bonus is that its not overly complicated, as sometimes epic pictures can become, so you're not left trying to take notes and keep track of umpteen different plot lines and characters, etc.
But the real treat is on the battlefield. I don't mean that in a "yeah, blood!" type of way. (Although there is plenty of that to go around.) I mean there are some real studies of tactics and strategy going on here. Just damned interesting in themselves. And the politicking and intrigue is there for you who enjoy such things as well.
Performance wise everyone did a fine job, nobody stood out as "that guy."
Faults? Welllll, I have to admit to *not* being a fan of the whole "kung-fu shtick", and unfortunately directory John Woo delivers just that on several occasions. The flourish and slo-mo scenes, the CG blood spatter... At least nobody was flying "Crouching Tiger" style or anything too over the top. On the bright side these events are few and far between.
I've *not* seen the pared-down for American audiences version, nor do I intend to after this. As is often the case (Dune, Lord of the Rings), the "long version" proves to be more than definitive. How much of this story is true and how much is legend? I will leave that up to the historians to decide. It really doesn't matter in the scope of the film.
And yes it is all in Mandarin Chinese with subtitles. Would you have it any other way? Seriously!?
If you've got a dreary weekend afternoon with no plans, rent a copy of parts I & II (they were released separately, due to the length) and settle in for an adventure, a history lesson, and just a good time.
A Trailer to wet your whistle....
Summary: When it comes to truly epic war movies a few come to mind. Lawrence of Arabia, The Longest Day, maybe even Patton or Band of Brothers.... But this is almost the very definition of epic. Weighing in at nearly *five* hours long, Red Cliff does not fail to deliver.