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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
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Castle Talk
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Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
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The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
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4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
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Everything in Between
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Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
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Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
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The Walkmen - Lisbon
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Lisbon
Fat Possum
LOSTATSEA.NET > FEATURES >

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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