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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.
EXTENDED TRAILER: www.youtube.com/watch?v=WDqamjm8lc4 SEE ALSO: www.redclifffilm.com
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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