Movie Review on “Red Cliff”


I can vividly remember that I was in grade one when I got my first permission to join my siblings in their quest for a movie around our barangay. Quest because there were only two houses that carry a television for the entire place. The movie you might want to see is not according to your liking but to either of the television owners’. This is the picture you may get out of the polaroid camera three decades ago.

It’s a good thing to remember that the first movie I saw was Enter the Dragon starring the legendary Bruce Lee. Being that young, the concept of being able to defend yourself using karate, or in this case, kung fu, is extremely inviting to me. This was how my elder brother, who’s afraid to saunter at night alone, persuades me to go with him whenever he’s up to watch a movie to either of the available theatres. He would just tell me that a kung fu movie awaits us. It worked for him but not until it obviously became just a trick to get me.

Through the years though, my interest in kung fu movies remained intact. So when I chanced upon a billboard, newspaper column, trailer or any stuff that will depict that, my attention would be automatically summoned to watch. That’s what happened when I saw Red Cliff on newspaper yesterday before I went home. I immediately felt the urge to go see it.

Reviewing the movie is what I wanted to bring out from this blog similar to that feature of the defunct friendster’s write a review just to deviate from the usual stuff I do here. But first, let me give my rating. From the scale of 1- 5 (5 being the highest), I’ll give the highest.

The movie is basically about war. It is a Chinese epic film based on the Battle of the Red Cliffs and events during the end of the Han Dynasty (206 BC–220 AD) and immediately prior to the period of the Three Kingdoms (220-280) in ancient China. What I find most interesting about the movie is the illustration of intelligence as a primary weapon in war. The direction of the wind, espionage, having the best war strategist, and femme fatale (though this was not originally considered during the planning because fate was the one who made use of it) are actually the determining factors of the protagonists’ victory in said war. Id est, as far as my opinion is concerned.

Another thing I find magnetic about the movie is its actors headed by Andy Lau, Takeshi Kaneshiro, and Zhou Wei. I have admired Mr. Lau in his outstanding performance as Broken Sword in the movie, Hero (starring Jet Li). He is probably the most renowned among the cast as far as the degree of noticeability is concerned. He’d already won several awards which may attest his acting prowess so I just can’t help admiring him again on how effective he is for playing the role of Grand Viceroy Zhou Yu.

Let’s now spin the bottle … and it pointed to our second actor: Takeshi Kaneshiro. This man was a revelation to me. The first time I saw him was in the movie, House of the Flying Daggers. For me, he is still not as effective as Mr. Lau that time but in this movie, he just nailed it. I thought he’s just a pretty face until he’s proven me wrong with his portrayal as Zhuge Liang (the war strategist). He radiated what was really needed to give justice to the role. He is one superb actor now I must say just like Mr. Lau.

Completing my Trinity is Zhou Wei who is best known for her role as Stephen Chow’s girlfriend in the movie, Shaolin Soccer. This time she played the role of Sun Shangxiang who was deployed by Zhuge Liang to spy on the antagonist’s (Cao Cao played by actor, Zhang Fengyi) lair – his military base. I am just a blabbermouth in this kind of endeavor, but I didn’t think she was the right actor for the role at first. I have two reasons for presenting that: (1) She is too short for a soldier and (2) she looks so fragile. The point is, I didn’t find her effective because of those. I would have wanted to see someone like Jennifer Garner who can definitely substantiate the requirements the role. So how did I come up with the idea that she is actually fit for the role? Common sense! Her height and looks were advantageous. At war, a volunteer would be accepted to serve especially if he possesses the basic requirement: combat skills. Height is not a big deal because in times of war, I think any volunteer will do as long as you’re a male. To cope with the burden of the latter, what she did was she masqueraded as a male to penetrate the supposed Invincible Armada of General Cao Cao. And how did her fragile look worked for her? In order to conceal the motives of her espionage, that very look was the perfect ingredient. She actually looks like a boy when she puts on all those military must haves. If you can’t still buy it, just refer to the movie Shaolin Soccer where she did the same stratagem to get in the game. It’s funny how I found out that the reasons on why I think she is not the right actor for the role I gave earlier were actually the same reasons why she was chosen for the role.

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2 thoughts on “Movie Review on “Red Cliff”

  1. Great commentary about the movie. Personally, I haven’t watched the movie yet. But as to how you described the film, I feel that I should watch this very soon.
    I like Zhou Wei. She starred on So Close and other movies that I liked. This movie is a definitely must see for me. Thanks for review!

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