One of, if not the most anticipated Chinese epic this year, the news revolving around Red Cliff has been rampant.
Tony Leung out, Chow Yun-Fat quit, Ken Watanabe replaced, Tony back in, Tony criticized for looking stupid instead of heroic, Takeshi found himself in a different role, Lin Chi-Lin criticized to be a vase, and a stuntman died in the clause of filming. And yes, this is Asia’s most expensive film at US$80 million.
The “Chronicle of Three Kingdoms” is one of the most iconic stories in Chinese history. For us raised in the pop culture era, THAT very famous computer game was based on this story.
I found myself walking down the red carpet yesterday with a big bag carrying groceries accidentally. (How unglam! Should have won nicer clothes.) But the rest armed with cameras are waiting for the group of John Woo, Lin Chi Ling, Zhang Zhen and Zhang Feng Yi just behind me.
With an immense opening music score, the film sets in tone that it is going to be huge. The grand sets, ambitious battle scenes and impressive scenery were highlights of this epic.
But it was also little moral stories and strategies by Zhu Ge Liang (Takeshi Kaneshiro) and Zhou Yu (Tony Leung) which brought out the beauty of the story.
Some of the lead casts look misplaced though. Zhang Zhen and Tony Leung didn’t bring out the strength of the characters, and Lin Chi-Ling never looked more awkward in bed and bandage.
However, Takeshi Kaneshiro was suitably good bringing out the wise character, and my heart cheered for Guan Yu (Basen Zabu). But it was ‘Little Sparrow’ Zhao Wei who stole the show for me. Her minor role as the fierce tomboy Sun Shangxiang had more character and disposition than many of the guys.
Not forgetting John Woo’s signature dove which is symbolically used in all his movies from A Better Tomorrow to Face/Off makes its presence felt at the end.
Red Cliff doesn’t disappoint. After running for more than 2 hours till close midnight, I still wanted more. But the best has yet to come. 4.5*