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MV5BMjA3MjAzOTQxNF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwOTc5OTY1OTE@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_What’s it all about?

European mercenaries searching for black powder become embroiled in the defence of the Great Wall of China against a horde go monstrous creatures.

Why did I want to see it?

Monsters. In China. Say no more.

What did I think of it?

I really, really liked The Great Wall, much more than I anticipated. For all sorts of reasons this was absolutely the right film at the right time. Less focussed on the western characters than the marketing would have you believe. Tian Jing is my new girl crush as the Chinese commander, very cool and will pop up again in another context soon. It’s also a beautiful film in the way that only the Chinese can manage, with choreographed set pieces, gloriously coloured costumes and the obligatory break for some music. And the monsters are very very cool.

I learned several things:

  • Matt Damon (bless him) cannot sustain an Irish accent for more than 2 minutes at a time
  • do not trust Willem Defoe under any circumstances
  • bungee jumping in exotic blue armour while holding a spear is the only way to fight.

I will re-watch this at the first opportunity. Loved it.

 

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MV5BMTk0MjgxOTQ5MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODA3NTUwNjE@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_I’m (still catching up on reviews of films seen over the past couple of months, so these may be a little shorter than normal, basically just being based on what I can remember.

Watched: 12 June 2016

What’s it all about?

When corrupt Roman leader Tiberius arrives with a giant army to claim the Silk Road, Huo An teams up his army with an elite Legion of defected Roman soldiers led by General Lucius to protect his country and his new friends.

Why did I want to see it?

Well, that’s a good question. I watched it because I had bought it as a birthday present for my husband who loves this sort of thing, and it was his choice for a Sunday night movie.

What did I think of it?

This is slightly potty (but not the maddest film I’ve seen recently; that delight is yet to come!) and not entirely because of the Chinese narrative structure which is pretty different from what we are used to here, being not entirely chronological and going off at tangents occasionally (mostly to allow the star to do the thing he is best known for). So we have Jackie Chan as our hero, doing his very best Chan-ing. We have Adrien Brody chewing the scenery as Chief Evil Roman (and being very entertaining while doing it). We have John Cusack as the Good Roman, looking completely dazed throughout; I couldn’t decide whether he had been drinking or just couldn’t quite believe he had got mixed up in this. And there is a really irritating child. I think I understood what was going on but don’t ask me to explain it any further.

Having said all that it was actually very entertaining, but distinctly odd.

red_cliff-3So we are in third century China and the Prime Minister (bad guy) persuades the Emperor (weak, ineffectual guy) to allow him to go to war with the other Two Kingdoms (led by the good guys) which existed at the time. Lots and lots of strategic shenanigans and significant battles with very big armies and navies follow.

My grasp of Chinese history falters around about this point (actually it falters quite a way before this point…), but I understand that the film is based on The Romance of the Three Kingdoms, apparently the most beloved and famous novel in Asia.

Well, I will be honest, the reason I went to see this film was as a birthday treat for the Book God so I was prepared to endure rather than enjoy the two and a half hour running time, and it does have a slow start which didn’t bode well. I noticed pretty quickly, however, that a couple of the leading actors were seriously handsome so if nothing else I had someone aesthetically pleasing to look at throughout the movie. But I was to be pleasantly surprised…

What I loved about this movie = apart from aforementioned handsomeness (see illustration), this is a gorgeous, sweeping epic of a film with huge set pieces; a lot of fighting (as you would expect, it’s a war movie after all); comedy generals, beautiful scenery and a couple of really good female roles, which was unexpected.

What I didn’t like about the movie = actually this was pretty OK all things considered, but some of the scenes with falling horses were a bit hard to watch

Rating stuff  = 15 for strong battle violence (and a 3 second cut for one of the horse falls mentioned above)

Tissue count = none

Safety Cushion = not required

I am so not the target audience for this movie but it is really well made. I can’t see me going out of my way to watch the whole thing again, but I could be drawn in if I came across it on TV. And it is good to see significant female roles in a story which is essentially about military strategy and, lets face it, a lot of men beating, stabbing and shooting each other (albeit with arrows rather than guns).

The Book God absolutely loved it, and wished we had access to the full two-part version which I suspect goes on forever. 

But I don’t regret the experience…..