Red Cliff Pt. 1

Release Year: 2008
Starring: Tony Leung, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Zhang Fengyi, Chang Chen, Hu Jun, Zhao Wei, Lin Chi-Ling, Nakamura Shido, You Yong.
Directed by: John Woo
Written by: John Woo, Chen Han, Sheng Heyu, based on the Chronicle of The Three Kingdoms.
IMDB: 7.4 (453 votes)

Apparently, this was a two-part movie. Yet despite its length, it failed to capitalize the real story of the Romance of Three Kingdoms. One thing that I despise from movie makers was when the creativity went too far that it ruined the expectations. This was seen on The Three Kingdoms that starred Andy Lau. Way too re-created by the screenwriters that I watched it in utter disappointment.

Although Red Cliff wasn’t as awful as The Three Kingdoms, it was a disappointing one. The adaptation was crap. The cast were rather unsuitable for the roles, and it wasted a lot of screen time for pointless scenes.

The key of the real Red Cliff episode was Zhuge Liang. Zhou Yu was the second major character and Lu Su as the third. As for what it was all about, it was all about Zhuge Liang’s brilliance who not only brought victory to the allied Wu and Liu Bei (the kingdom of Shu hasn’t been established by then), but also managed to outwit Zhou Yu completely.

In the novel, Zhou Yu was actually attempted to eliminate Zhuge Liang repeatedly only to meet failure every time. Zhuge Liang was actually able to anticipate all of Zhou Yu’s strategies and intentions that in the end this killed Zhou Yu not with blade, but with wit.

Also, Zhou Yu didn’t actually visited Liu Bei, but he invited Liu Bei so that he could kill Liu Bei and one of Liu Bei’s wife was actually survived the attack. Liu Bei was also so upset that he dropped his son to the ground because he thought that Zhao Yun was a lot more valuable than his son (and he was right because Liu Chan was a stupid successor).

The battle plot was also flawed. There were no encounters between Cao Cao’s army and the allied army before the naval battle really began. Wu’s armada would fight the naval battle while Liu Bei’s army would intercept the fleeing Cao Cao’s army.

Another disappointing divergence between the real story and the movie was when Zhuge Liang debated with Sun Quan’s advisors before he managed to forge the alliance. Yes, it would be too verbose, but the point of the story was not only the grandeur of battlefield, but also in strategies and morals. It would’ve been very entertaining if it was told as is.

The cast wasn’t suitable with the roles. Zhuge Liang was supposed to look a lot more tricky but calm. Takeshi Kaneshiro was rather lacking in portraying that wily advisor. He was rather too tense in doing it. Tony Leung was too calm for his role because Zhou Yu was actually more devious and short-tempered. Liu Bei was portrayed less charming, Guan Yu less menacing and majestic. Only Zhao Yun and Zhang Fei got a somewhat great portrayal. However, instead the scene where Zhang Fei was doing calligraphy, it would be better that he was doing his drinking.

It seemed that the movie also wrote off Huang Gai, Xu Shu, and Pang Tong’s role in it (maybe they would appear on the second part?), and Zhuge Liang’s feat of borrowing 150,000 arrows from Cao Cao. Princess Sun’s scenes should have never existed at all, because it was not a romance flick. Last time the novel was transformed into a romance flick (The Legendary Prime Minister Zhuge Liang), it was an absolute disaster, although I think Adam Cheng was rather suitable for the role.

The production was actually ambitious. Yet despite the big budget, the execution was sub-par. Not from the directing, but from the story and the cast. I had a great expectation from this movie, but in the end I must say the TV series of the novel trumped this one by a wide margin.

For part 1, I give the score of 6.0.


Jaccstev said...

I quite like this film more than Andy Lau version, but i don't love it. I have to agree if there's still many lacks on the plot and characterizations.