Set in China in the 1860's during the Taiping Rebellion, the story is based on the assassination of Ma Xinyi in 1870. Loyalist General Qingyun is the only survivor of a battle with ... See full summary »
His country torn asunder by civil war, Zhao Zilong, a common man heeds the call of duty and from the humblest of roots rises through the ranks on wings of courage and cunning to command an ... See full summary »
During China's Tang dynasty the emperor has taken the princess of a neighboring province as wife. She has borne him two sons and raised his eldest. Now his control over his dominion is complete, including the royal family itself.
Story centers on a battle during China's Warring States Period, a series of civil wars, which spanned from the 5th to the 3rd century B.C. Based on a popular Japanese manga, which was in turn based a Japanese novel inspired by Warring States history in China.
When three close friends escape from Hong Kong to war-time Saigon to start a criminal's life, they all go through a harrowing experience which totally shatters their lives and their friendship forever.
Tony Chiu-Wai Leung,
In this sequel to Red Cliff, Chancellor Cao Cao convinces Emperor Xian of the Han to initiate a battle against the two Kingdoms of Shu and Wu, who have become allied forces, against all expectations. Red Cliff will be the site for the gigantic battle.Written by
John Woo's RED CLIFF deserved a proper theatrical release in North America
I saw the original two-part five-hour Chinese release version of RED CLIFF on DVD earlier this year. I was eager to see the shortened two-and-a-half-hour North American theatrical release version for two reasons: 1) to see it on the big screen and 2) because I thought that shorter would be better. The five-hour original was simply way too long; there was plenty of material that could have been removed without sacrificing anything.
Magnet Pictures released this film quietly in only two theaters in Manhattan and no theaters in my home borough. By the time I could devote an evening to see it, some three weeks after it opened, it was down to playing at one out-of-the-way theater on the Lower East Side and only at times that were impossible for working people, so I had to make a trip into Manhattan on the weekend for a morning show on Sunday, December 13, 2009. The good news is that I was quite pleased with the final result. I thought it played beautifully at two-and-a-half-hours and found it far more gripping, suspenseful and exciting than the longer version. There are plenty of moments that would have elicited applause, laughter and cheers had this played to a full multiplex crowd on a Friday night at a centrally located theater, say, in Times Square. Unfortunately, it did not have that opportunity. And because it's so inconvenient for most people to see, I can't go around recommending this to the people I think would enjoy it.
I wish that John Woo and his producers had made more of an effort to find a suitable North American distributor for RED CLIFF, the most expensive film yet made in China. From what I've heard, Woo asserted that he made this film for his Chinese audience, to which I respond, what about your American fans? We championed your Hong Kong films for years and ensured a growing reputation here that enabled you to come over in 1993 and begin directing films in Hollywood—the start of a ten-year stretch that made you a wealthy man and a respected auteur the world over. You belong to the world, now, Mr. Woo. Aren't the rest of us entitled to see one of your best films in a proper theatrical setting? After all, five years ago Zhang Yimou's Chinese epic, HERO, was released by Miramax to multiplex theaters across the U.S. and even hit #1 at the box office for its opening weekend. I saw HERO on opening night in a sold-out house at a 42nd Street multiplex in Manhattan with a very respectful audience that seemed to appreciate its stylized tone, fanciful fight scenes, and all-star cast. While not as star-heavy, RED CLIFF is much more of a genuine crowd-pleaser, with a more engaging plot and far more action, and would certainly have sent exhilarated fans out to eagerly spread the word among their friends. Woo's American fanbase deserved the opportunity to do that.
RED CLIFF offers narrative film-making in a classical style that used to be quite common in Hollywood. Among today's American filmmakers, only Quentin Tarantino comes close and only in select films like this year's INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS. RED CLIFF reminds me of the epics that filled me with awe in neighborhood theaters as a child, most notably Anthony Mann's two spectacles, EL CID (1961) and FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE (1964). The failure of RED CLIFF to reach its audience in the U.S. is emblematic of everything that's wrong with movie distribution in this country today.
I've placed this review in the IMDb entry for RED CLIFF Part II, because that's the part that comprises the bulk of the North American release version.
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