» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]


 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]


 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum

November 24, 2009
RATING: 6/10
John Woo, best known for Hong Kong action shoot-'em-up potboilers like A Better Tomorrow and Hard Boiled, as well as Hollywood fare like Face/Off, is trying something different. Sort of. He's taken the over-the-top action choreography, the melodramatic Old West style showdowns, the grandiose heroism he has mostly applied to cops and guns and set it in ancient China. The resulting 2.5 hour film, Red Cliff, is spectacular and exciting, but also overblown and overwrought. Released as a two-part, four-hour film in Asia, this Chinese historical battle epic is the most expensive Asian-made film ever and the highest grossing film in Chinese box office history. It was scaled back to a single 148-minute version for Western audiences and illustrates the huge gulf between Eastern and Western viewing tastes.

There's only so much bombardment one can take, and Woo even applies his trademark style to the dialogue, dramatically pushing in on characters' faces as they ponder some critical decision. Without getting too bogged down in the details, the players are the power-grabbing General Cao Cao vs. a bunch of imperial rebels. Tony Leung plays Zhou Yu, a warlord who reaches out to another warlord and pulls off an unbelievable act of defiance against the Emperor and his minions. Even though there's not a gun to be found here, explosions are plentiful, as the opposing sides launch flaming arrows, gunpowder and catapulting bombs at each other. Hand-to-hand combat is not lacking either. Ridiculous swordfights, extreme horseback riding, and even biological warfare are employed as these two sides go at it.

For all his focus on action, Woo does take the time to slow things down every now and then, allowing slow-mo gazes and hyper-real musical motifs to burst through the impressive digital effects occasionally. The funny thing is that these are just as showy as the fighting. But that's just how Woo does it. That's how he keeps asses in seats. And for a lengthy historical epic, Red Cliff is a captivating effort, full of bombast and melodrama. In essence, Woo takes the core elements of filmmaking and pastes them in garish colors all over his films' membranes. It's sometimes silly, but it's always fun to watch.

TRAILER: www.youtube.com/watch?v=pd0bqLQrtdE
EXTENDED TRAILER: www.youtube.com/watch?v=WDqamjm8lc4

SEE ALSO: www.redclifffilm.com

Jonah Flicker
Jonah Flicker writes, lives, drinks, eats, and consumes music in New York, via Los Angeles. He once received a fortune in a fortune cookie that stated the following: "Soon, a visitor shall delight you." He's still waiting.

See other articles by Jonah Flicker.



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