Friday, May 28, 2010

Red Cliff 2 - A Review

This movie is a sequel to Red Cliff 1 and the story picked up right after where Red Cliff 1 ended.
I personally thought that this epic will be brilliant if watched at one go, but that would mean a crazy movie endurance test of 5 long hours.

Anyway, this epic depict of the naval war at Red Cliff between Cao Cao and the Eastern Wu empire. The princess of Eastern Wu, Sun Shang Xiang (Zhao Wei) infiltrated Cao Cao's camp and became a spy for the Wu army. When Cao Cao's army was infected by typhoid fever, Cao Cao sent the corpse of his dead army to the shores of Eastern Wu to spread the disease and forced Liu Bei to break alliance from Zhou Yu (Tony Leung). However, ZhuGe Liang (Takeshi Kaneshiro) stayed behind and helped the war. Part 2 was mostly about the cat and mouse game between strategic planner Zhou Yu and ZhuGe Liang trying to out-smart and out-wit each other on friendly terms. Here, we saw the reenactment of how ZhuGe Liang collected 100,000 arrows from the enemy fleet over one single night. We also saw how Zhou Yu's brilliant plan incapacitate Cao Cao's navy fleet. In the end, ZhuGe Liang brilliantly predicted the change of climate and helped plotted the attack on Cao Cao's fleet. Zhou Yu's wife, Xiao Qiao, secretly crossed over into Cao Cao's camp to help buy time for Zhou Yu's troop. In the end, Cao Cao lost the Battle of Red Cliff.

The sequel was very exciting. Following the footsteps of its predecessor, this one was equally brilliant in terms of cinematography and story telling. The angles were shot so brilliantly, with symbols of things all over the movie. I love how John Woo captured the serenity at Zhou Yu's home while Zhou Yu was practicing sword while Xiao Qiao made tea, despite the war going on. I love how ZhuGe Liang was filmed capturing the arrows and those scenes where he calmed down and thinks. The battle scenes were so surreal and definitely on par with Western epics like Lord of The Rings : Two Towers.

In this movie, I must applaud Zhao Wei for her outstanding performance as Sun Shang Xiang. She had more screen time here and she reminded me of her debut performance as Princess Xiao Yan Zhi in Huan Zu GeGe almost ten years ago. But her acting was good. She really portrayed the initial excitement for war, to the joy of being friends with the enemy while undercover, the pride of proving herself to Sun Quan that women can be equally capable, to finally, the sorrow the war had brought to her and her people.

Ratings : 8.5/10. Finally a chinese epic worth to be proud of!

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