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Red Cliff (2008)

Chi bi (original title)
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The first chapter of a two-part story centered on a battle fought in China's Three Kingdoms period (220-280 A.D.).



(screenplay), (screenplay) (as Chan Khan) | 3 more credits »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Zhou Yu (as Tony Leung)
Gan Xing (as Shidou Nakamura)
Xiao Qiao (as Chi-Ling Lin)
Yong You ...
Yong Hou ...
Dawei Tong ...
Baasanjav Mijid ...
Jinsheng Zang ...
Shan Zhang ...


In 208 A.D., in the final days of the Han Dynasty, shrewd Prime Minster Cao Cao convinced the fickle Emperor Han the only way to unite all of China was to declare war on the kingdoms of Xu in the west and East Wu in the south. Thus began a military campaign of unprecedented scale, led by the Prime Minister, himself. Left with no other hope for survival, the kingdoms of Xu and East Wu formed an unlikely alliance. Numerous battles of strength and wit ensued, both on land and on water, eventually culminating in the battle of Red Cliff. During the battle, two thousand ships were burned, and the course of Chinese history was changed forever. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Destiny lies in the wind. See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for sequences of epic warfare | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:




Release Date:

4 December 2009 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Red Cliff  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


CNY 553,632,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£153,288 (UK) (12 June 2009)


$626,809 (USA) (26 March 2010)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs



Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


Ken Watanabe was originally selected for the role of Cao Cao. According to a report, some Chinese fans voiced objections over the choice as they felt that it was inappropriate for a Japanese actor to portray an important Chinese historical figure. The report claimed that the protests influenced the decision of John Woo, who eventually chose Fengyi Zhang for the role. See more »


A sleeping baby is shown with blood spattered on his face in one shot, and in the next shot his face is completely clean. See more »


[first lines]
Narrator: The year is 208 AD. After years of civil war, a deathly calm has fallen of northern China. One by one, the rebel warlords have met their end under the sword of Prime Minister Cao Cao. Now, even the Han Emperor bows before his power. Yet from the south, a challenge is heard. Two leaders arise against Cao Cao's tyranny, the aging Liu Bei, and the inexperienced Sun Quan. So Cao Cao petitions the Emperor to brand these men as traitors, and declare a new war against the peaceful ...
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Followed by Red Cliff II (2009) See more »


Heart, War
Music by Tarô Iwashiro
Lyrics by Francis Lee
Performed by Alan
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Visually stunning but too short
19 June 2009 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

The Battle of Red Cliffs holds a special place in Chinese history and mythology. It was a decisive conflict which occurred at the end of the Han Dynasty, immediately prior to the period of the Three Kingdoms, and it was fought in the winter of 208/209 between the allied forces of the southern warlords Liu Bei and Sun Quan and the numerically superior forces of the northern warlord Cao Cao.

The 2008 film, titled simply "Red Cliff", was deliberately timed for release in China in the lead up to the 2008 Summer Olympics and was a great success with Chinese audiences. One year later, the movie has a limited release in the West where the selling point is not so much the history (which is largely unknown outside China) as the director (Hong Kong's John Woo who is known for such Hollywood work as "Broken Arrow", "Face/Off" and "Mission: Impossible 2").

It has to be said that the Mandarin dialogue is leaden and much of the acting somewhat exaggerated, but a huge cast and considerable special effects - allied with the director's trademark style - makes the movie visually stunning with clever tactical manoeuvres, multiple battle scenes and considerable blood.

If it all seems a little confused to Western audiences, this is probably because we are seeing it in a rather different version to the original. In Asia, "Red Cliff" was released in two parts, totalling over four hours in length, whereas outside of Asia, the release is a single film of 'only' two and a half hours. For me, it's not up there with "Hero" or "House of Flying Daggers" but it is well-worth seeing and a pictorial treat.

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