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Red Cliff (DVD Review)

20 Mar, 2010 By: Angelique Flores

Street 3/23/10
Box Office $0.6 million
Theatrical Version $26.98 DVD, $29.98 Blu-ray
International Version $29.98 DVD, $34.98 Blu-ray
Rated ‘R’ for sequences of epic warfare.
Stars Tony Leung, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Chen Chang.

War is ugly, but not in a John Woo film.

In his first Chinese movie since 1992, Woo (Face/Off, Mission: Impossible II) has delivered an epic film depicting the real-life Battle on the Red Cliff, which took place in China during the Han Dynasty (208 A.D.).

Tony Leung (Hero) and Takeshi Kaneshiro (House of Flying Daggers) star as Zhou Yu and Kongming, respectively, who lead the people of the southern province in a victorious battle against the tyrannical Cao Cao.

With a reported $80 million budget, Red Cliff has been hailed with numerous international nominations and awards.

Everything is gorgeous, from the scenery to the costumes and even the battles. The grand fight sequences are incredibly shot with both close-ups, to appreciate the choreography, and long shots from above, to see the intricate formations. According to IMDb.com, the Chinese Army allowed filmmakers to use about 100,000 soldiers to play extras. This gives the battle scenes the moving grittiness that CGI cannot accomplish.

Woo employs many of his trademark devices, including choreographed action and slow-motion trickery. And it hasn’t gotten any less exciting. Even for someone who can’t usually stomach violence or gratuitous fight scenes, this film kept me glued to the screen. Even the blood spatter looked pretty.

The U.S. theatrical cut is a 148-minute version of Woo’s original international cut, which clocks in at 288 minutes. Both versions are available on disc.

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