Friday, May 28, 2010

Red Cliff 1 - A Review

The most expensive Asian- financed film to date... From the critically acclaimed director John Woo, with a row of extraordinary cast of actors Tony Leung, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Zhang Fengyi, Chang Chen and Zhao Wei... I watched the Red Cliff Part 1 last night.

This 2 hour 30 minute movie is a historical reenactment of one of the most important battles in the China history, though according to some of my friends who are very familiar with China history that this movie is not factually accurate. But I still think cinematographically, it is still one hell of a movie.

The audiences were introduced to Chancellor Cao Cao who wanted to conquer the northern region ruled by Sun Quan and Liu Bei in the name of eradicating rebels. Part 1 of Red Cliff showcased the legendary combat skills by Liu Bei's sworn brothers, Guan Yu and Zhang Fei. We were also introduced to Zhao Zi Long, a brave young commander who rescued Liu Bei's infant son single-handedly. Liu Bei's advisor, ZhuGe Liang embarked on a mission to the Wu Kingdom up North to seek alliance from Sun Quan. We were then introduced to Sun Quan's military advisor Zhou Yu and his beautiful wife Xiao Qiao. The Northern Kingdoms formed an alliances and defeated Cao Cao's land army with some very clever use of combat tactics. The movie ended with Zhou Yu instructing on the second attack via the naval route.

After watching this movie, I felt like I have watched a very expensive 2 hour 30 minute trailer of Red Cliff 2, or maybe perhaps 3. This piece is brilliant nonetheless. It is fully packed with action and occasionally, sex. No, not the 18 and above rated kind. But there were some moments where development were rather slow, like the awkward silences, the knowing glance, the unexplained action. But every scene was essential and necessary, nonetheless. I'll have to say that this movie doesn't require audiences to just watch but to interpret as well.

I absolutely adore the cinematography. John Woo is a genius with the camera. Every scene was capture so intensely, no matter if it is a battle scene or just plain serene scenery. And the editing was superb. I especially love the scene where Zhou Yu and ZhuGe Liang played musical instruments together. It was so tense between the characters and all the meanings are conveyed through musical notes alone. The camera angles were perfect. I also like the love- making scene between Zhou Yu and his wife, because it is so artsy and beautifully portrayed (unlike many Western films who just get down and dirty) The whole incident was arranged against the background of rain and bamboo and white silk, which according to my interpretation, symbolises a lot of things.

Another remarkable point of the movie is the soundtrack. The boy who played the flute so wonderfully was juxtapositioned against army training in the valley of mountains. And those fearless battle tracks. Of course, one of my favourite was the scene where Sun Quan hunted the tiger. It was a perfect marriage of art direction and sound editing.

Ratings : 8.5/10. I am singing praises for this movie! But it is really darn long........

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