Reviews: Red Cliff

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Great action, epic Plot, unfortunately edited.
Okay so I saw the American version of this film that is available for streaming on Netflix. This apparently consists of the final 2 hours of an otherwise 4 hour long Chinese movie. The result of this is that many/most of the characters are insufficiently introduced and are difficult to tell apart, as most of their back-story has been cut. The movie is also based on the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, which is apparently a widely read classic of Chinese literature, so the film-makers may have expected you to know the characters already.

The scholarly adviser, the wife of the heroic general, and the villain all do get sufficient characterization, but on the whole it feels rather akin to watching the latter half of the towers or return of the king: well done epic battles and good acting without a lot of the context to make it fully meaningful.

The main draw of this movie is going to be the action, the cinematography, and the very high production values. On that respect it does not disappoint: the action is consistently thrilling, and the use of innovative battle tactics by the heroes is engaging. It is a Wuxia flick, so all of the protagonists have super strength, agility,and speed that is not explained in-universe, so if that bothers you then you will not like this movie. The landscapes and armor and ships and architecture are all spectacular with the notable exception of the last shot which is a significantly over-the-top digital matte paining thing. Also they probably overdid the amount of firebombs for dramatic effect, making it as explosion heavy as a modern action movie.

Generally this is an extremely well done historical epic, with good acting, great sets, and thrilling if rather silly action. However it is a dying shame that the American cut butchers the story. Damnable executive meddling why must you thwart me again?!
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The Chinese version of Troy, only good.
Do yourself a favor and watch this. It makes recent Hollywood epics look like kid stuff. The scale of this movie is so enormous, I realized that China is the only country in the world that can mobilize armies of stuntmen large enough to put on a show like this. But it's not just spectacle; much of the movie consist of wonderful performances from the movies main actors. What with the string of failures in western theaters for similar movies (Troy, Alexander, and the Executive Meddling that hurt Kingdom Of Heaven, Red Cliff is a film that defies precedent the world over.
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