Disappointing. Pretty, but empty: battle battle, quite pretty moment, battle,battle, quiet pretty moment, battle battle battle, quiet pretty moment, and so on. The battles were pretty, the quiet moments were pretty. I didn't care what happened to anyone. Basically a painting in motion. Perhaps the longer original Chinese version is where the characters lived the lives we don't see in the International version.
Every second between the geniunly epic battle scenes is a copy-paste of popular American and popular Asian cinema. So much so, that these moments (often filled with low-brow melodrama) become embarassing. This is by far Woo's best effort, but it's no "Ran"... (2 stars out of 5)
Woo finds the right note and then mercilessly smashes it for 300 minutes. Red Cliff is loud, grandiloquous, exagerated, campy, infantile. And, guess what, it works incredibly well. Once you accept the absurdity and push aside the shallow drama, the battle sequences can be immensely thrilling, both for the execution and the well mesured set-ups, the over the top top antics of the generals being humorous and inventive.
Grace and violence meet, only under John Woo. I hope he stays within China to make even more interesting, important films. Good for China and seems to be more personally fulfilling for him. The beauty of it all, coupled with the historical strategy and brutality is mesmerizing. Forget the short version. Agree that it is his masterpiece and makes it clear to me that he really is an auteur.
I've been a huge admirer of John Woo's Hong Kong films for sometime but until seeing Red Cliff I had never thought about listing him among my favorite auteurs but this film clinched it. How this film hasn't received more attention(even with its poor distribution) is beyond me, in terms of craftsmenship and spectacle the recent work of Ridley Scott, Cameron and Nolan don't come close to what Woo has done here.
Epically awesome! Battles on a grand scale! I would have preferred it a little grittier...( too squeaky clean ) and while the acting was excellent all around it was a bit over the top for me at times...( sometimes plays like a soap ). I could have also used a few mini bosses to deliver pleasure upon demise. With that said, I thoroughly enjoyed the 5 hours spent watching it. A FUN MOVIE!
SPOILER: Both films are fun I haven't seen the International cut, but I think they could be both 20 minutes shorter. Some ideas that are not fully fleshed out, such as Zhao Wei's infatuation with an enemy soldier, could be left on the cutting floor. Overall, it's great to see China finally churning out big action productions that rivals Hollywood.
I watched the two-part international release, and really can't understand how it could have been edited into a 2.5 hour movie. Watching it, I was left with the impression that it should be written about IN CAPITAL LETTERS. And probably thought about that way too. (But that makes it seem a bit like I'm questioning its subtlety or emotional intelligence, and really Red Cliff is very moving.)