Sunday, July 31, 2011

After Game Movies: Redcliff (Extended Edition)

Had a long day at work, spent enough time with the family, or just had your friends over. Well no sense in cleaning up, why not watch a movie instead?

Here's a movie that might tickle your fancy, this week on After Game Movies.........


REDCLIFF (EXTENDED EDITION)



Allow me to delve deeper into the majestic beauty of a film that is Red Cliff: Destiny Lies In The Wind............




SIGNIFICANCE

To my shock and awe it turns out not too many people actually know about this movie; for a while I too was also left in the dark. Allow me to discuse why this film is not only worth watching/owning and having marathons for, but admiring on a scale that rivals that of Star Wars and Lord of The Rings. Quite a big statement I know, but as you will hopefully see from this review(A fairly Bias one at that) why such a claim isn't without warrent. I have seen both versions of this film, the North American and the International releases; to my amazement there are significant differences. The NA one is shorter at 148mins, and does not have nearly as much character development or as fleshed out story line. The extended edition runs around the same time, but actually has more scenes showing character/theme growth, making it the superior of the two versions.  This film was directed by the legendary film maker, John Woo and he really pulls out all the stops on this film. It took nearly a decade to make and the scale of people that worked on this project is nearly double the size of the matrix films. The amount of money spent on this project is estimated to be roughly around $80,000,000 and after watching the movie you will see why. This film is a foreign language film, so that might be a turn off for some people who don't like to read subtitles during a film. However I believe this version at least has the option to insert English Dubs, but I am a firm believer that actually hearing the native language of the people involved helps create atmosphere. Luckly the subtext parts are short in length and don't reck the experience.




BACKGROUND

Red Cliff, takes place during the time of the Three Kingdoms in Chinese History and is credited with being one of the largest land/sea battles to ever occur in history. The Conqueror, General Cao Cao (Fengyi Zhang) has convinced the Emperor to declare war on a small neighbouring nation lead by Liu Bei (Yong You). This of course leads to countless deaths and losing battles as one of the largest armies to ever walk the earth destroys everything in their path (Sounds familiar). The only hope that remains for Liu Bei is for his Tactical Advisor, Zhuge Liang (Takeshi Kaneshiro) to unite another small neighbouring kingdom lead by Sun Quan (Chen Chang) to join with them. Their only chance at turning back Cao Cao and keeping their kingdoms free are to engage his forces on a battlefield of their choosing, Red Cliffs. It's a fortress that was built on a junction point where several larger chinese rivers join up in the mountains. Here the final battle will take place lead by Sun Quan's brother Zhou Yu (Tony Leung Chiu Wai ); combined with the tactical genius of
Zhuge Liang they attempt to turn the tide against an enemy without number.


PRODUCTION VALUES


The Turtle Formation..........

The level of detail in the costumes, fighting and overall aesthetic presentation is absolutely amazing. You can really tell the level of quality control that went into this movie and the amount of effort presented by the whole cast. There are some classic John Woo traits to this movie like: Slow motion action pieces and intense martial arts. There are some wire work that was done in this movie, which at first seems to break immersion, so thankfully those moments are far and few in number to really reck the reality of the movie. Theres a fair amount of comedy, but again this is also down played by more serious tones at key moments in the movie so they don't overpower the overall serious tone of the film. What they really help to do is spice up the exposition points in the film, allowing the viewer not to get too bored when random characters chat it up for several minutes.

CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT

Compared to the North American release of the film, this version actually has deep and interesting character growth and development that is key to the film. The struggles of Zhuge Liang to convience Sun Quan to aid Liu Bei, are truly breath taking and you really get the feeling of the entire weight of the problem that Cao Cao posseses. Speaking of the main villian, Cao Cao is just fantastic, he's selfish, overconfident and honorable at the same time. While on one hand he kills his generals if they fail a simple task, on another he is merciful towards the opposing enemy generals, even asking them to join him and serve under him. Lastly the character of Zhou Yu, is truly remarkable as he struggles to face Cao Cao's hordes at Red Cliff, but at the end of the day is unwavering in his duty to lead his forces against them and with a little help from Zhuge Liang, might force Cao Cao's hand. The only character that seems to get alot of attention, but not alot of screen time is Sun Quan. He has a whole part in the beginning of the story showing his lack of interest in aiding Li Bei, but thanks to his brother's guidance is able to forget about living in the shadows of his brother and father. He mans up, so to speak and helps out Li Bei's defeated army. Thats all we really see of him till the end of the film though, which is kind of a let down, given the amount of build up. On a whole the story is satisfying and really lends itself to the setting and conflict.





PACING

Not a short movie by any stretch, this film however has decent pacing so you won't feel too bored at any given time. The movie starts off with a large battle so the tone is set early, however after that the movie seems to slug its way to get to the actual conflict of the movie. However, once you begin to invest in the main characters you start to care more about their struggles, so once the larger battles occur there is a decent pay off. The trick tactics and schemes are fantastic allowing for many surprises along the way, while some humorous parts help prevent the film from feeling padded.


OVERALL PRESENTATION

A movie with great characters, visual effects, stunt work, some of the best and largest battle scenes to be ever seen inside or outside of Hollywood. This film is a must watch for any historical buff, or even action junky. If you are able to get invested in the plot the film floats by easily, but if not it can seem like it drags on to the next action bit. All in all a truly fantastic film, that is unlike any other one that I have seen up this point and is at the very least a must rent.


"In a world".....yah that part was chessy, but trust me this movie is great



THE FINAL VERDICT:

A STRONG RECOMMEND(For anyone who is interested in historical battles, action, strong plot/character development, and some crazy warscene mania)

NOT RECOMMENDED(For small children, mother in laws or anyone who can't stand the sight of blood or violence)


Pictures/Additional Information Provided by:

http://jacklfilmreviews.blogspot.com/2011/02/red-cliff-20082009-and-list-of.html
http://galaxieblog.com.my/default.asp?d=7%2F1%2F2007&page=33
http://asianfilmseries.blogspot.com/2009/11/red-cliff-part-i-2008.html
http://twitchfilm.com/site/view/concept-art-for-john-woos-red-cliff/
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1326972/

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