Movie Details

RED CLIFF PART 2

With a budget of US$80million, "Red Cliff" is the most expensive Asian-financed film to date. The movie is based on historical records of "The Chronicles of the Three Kingdom" rather than the novel, "Romance of the Three Kingdom". In the early third century, the land of Wu is invaded by the warlord Cao Cao and his soldiers. The ruler of Wu, Sun Quan (Chang Chen), calls on the rival warlord Liu Bei (You Yong) for help, but their two armies are still badly outnumbered. However, the strategists Zhou Yu (Tony Leung) and Zhuge Liang (Takeshi Kaneshiro) see that Cao Cao`s army is unused to battling on the sea. With 200,000 men, Zhou Yu and Zhuge Liang defeat Cao Cao`s army at the Yangtze River.

Language: Mandarin
Subtitle: NA
Classification: PG
Release Date: 9 Jan 2009
Genre: Epic / War
Running Time: 2 Hours 21 Minutes
Distributor: GOLDEN VILLAGE PICTURES
Cast: Tony Leung Chiu-Wai, Lin Chi Ling, Chang Chen
Director: John Woo
Format: NA

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Review
Writer: Ezekiel Lee Zhiang Yang

Writer Ratings:
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Watch this if you liked: "Warlords", "Battle Of Wits"

Thirty minutes into the second instalment of the most expensive Asian-financed film project ever, there is a sinking feeling that "Red Cliff" could have been a really great movie, only cut badly. Those Part 1 detractors who now have the reviewing shame of having dismissed the whole effort (this writer included), can at least divert your attention to the combined (and compressed) 180-minute Western release that we have been hearing about.

While international commercial success for the blockbuster was always guaranteed, a movie of such magnanimity is bound to come with lots of flaws. When viewed as an extension to the first, the second part of "Red Cliff" finally gives those poor characters in Part 1 something to do, instead of just standing about and admiring the expensive John Woo-approved backdrop. The "evil" Cao Cao (Zhang Fengyi) gets more meaningful screen time but the most improved character is definitely Lin Chi Ling's Xiao Qiao, who plays an important part in the final battle as opposed to just rubbing Tony Leung's back in the first instalment. The two share a particularly strong and memorable scene towards the end, where the great general concedes how he has lost to "a cup of tea, a gust of wind". Perhaps the only cast member still regrettable is Takeshi Kaneshiro, who still comes off as a smirking young upstart playing the sage Zhuge Liang.

The action is also much better. More intense and much dirtier, Woo's war is a spectacle to watch and not since Joan of Arc last fell from the arrow in "The Messenger" (1999) have we felt this close to the battle. Some of the ship warfare also appear very impressive, taking us back to Ridley Scott's "Master And Commander: The Far Side Of The World" (2003).

There's enough drama and blood spill in "Red Cliff Part 2" to make anybody think Part 1 was just as great, if they hadn't watched it and had seen this as a standalone.

It seems unlikely that Asia will attempt a movie of this enormity again for a long time, since John Woo has come good the second time around. On a more literary note though, let's hope the source material gets still more film adaptations - but less ambitious ones.

Cinema Online, 22 January 2009
   
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Classification
Effective 15 July 2011
G - Suitable for all ages
PG - Suitable for all ages, but parents should provide guidance to their young
PG13 - Suitable for persons aged 13 and above, but parental guidance is advised for children below 13
NC16 - Suitable for persons aged 16 years and above
M18 - Suitable for persons aged 18 years and above
R21 - Restricted to persons aged 21 and above only
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