Monday, August 3, 2009

Calling John Woo an action director appears a dis-service to his fine reputation. 'Action artist' would be more appropriate as he wants his audience to observe and feel every movement within every spectacularly staged sequence. Red Cliff sees his skills refined further with a true Chinese tale benefiting from his energetic story-telling. Although cut in length for Western audiences, Red Cliff finds Woo in his element utilising the rich historical background for his remarkable talents. Wracked by division and seeing the Han Dynasty in decline, China in 208 A.D. was a fractured land. Using this for his own ends, Prime Minister Cao Cao (Zhang Fengyi) persuaded the Emperor that the only way to unite China was to declare war on the Western kingdom of Xu and Southern kingdom of East Wu. Regrettably for him, both decided to wage war for their cherished provinces with their best warriors Zhuge Liang (Takeshi Kaneshiro) and Zhou Ye (Tony Leung) leading the charge. This set the stage for the battle of Red Cliff where power and honour would carve a new chapter in Chinese history. Back in his native China to construct the most expensive Asian film made, Woo ensures Red Cliff is grandiose in scope. With the camera gliding into its many battles, the viewer is driven head first into every bruising skirmish and ingenious tactical planning. This brings immediacy with various cinematic techniques maintaining rhythm. Due to its editing from its original 4 hour plus runtime, the film literally sets a cracking pace from its first frame to an epic finale full of wonderfully majestic action. In many ways Red Cliff feels very operatic in its approach. By interweaving threads dealing with triumph, tragedy and solidarity, there's almost a poetic sheen given to its combatant characters. Cao Cao's villainy has a veneer of valour as principle seems just as important as material gain. Well played by a strong cast, perhaps the film could have gained from a little more character development to really engage with the mind despite the stunning visuals. Certainly the extended version probably had this in spades whetting the appetite for further investigation when a fuller cut gets an inevitable 'special edition' DVD release. Edited or not, Red Cliff is an amazing looking film demanding the viewer's full attention. One could only imagine what an American version would be like, although it would be hard pressed to out-do its magnificent cinematic craftsmanship.


Move Review Rating out of 10 : 8  
 Movie Review by Patrick Moore If you have any comments to make about this Movie Review, then please use the comment box, titling your comments with Movie Review Red Cliff
Patrick Moore's Movie Review is an alternative look at current movie releases in Australia.
Red Cliff Official Homepage click here

No comments:

Post a Comment