Watching a movie from another country is often a fascinating experience. Depending on how much you know of the country, it can also be confusing at times. There is definitely a cultural barrier and, like reading a work of literature that was originally written in a different language, some things will be lost in translation. Regardless, the experience of immersing oneself in another culture, even if only through film, is something we should all do on a regular basis. Why not try it out by sitting down and enjoying the movie Red Cliff?
Directed by John Woo, the genius behind a guy jumping through the air with a blazing pistol in each hand, this movie was released in two parts in the Asian market in 2008 and 2009. In total, the movie runs for 280 minutes. For the English-speaking market(translation: short attention spans), the movie was pared down to 148 minutes. Released in 2009, the movie remains in Mandarin Chinese, though there are English sub-titles and a short intro in English. It is one of the most expensive Asian films ever, with a heft budget equivalent to eighty million U.S. dollars.
Red Cliff details the events leading up to the period of Three Kingdoms in ancient China, around 208 A.D. Imperial chancellor Cao Cao, who's power rivals even the Emperor, sets out to quell a "rebellion" in the south. Realizing the danger, two southern warlords become allies in order to preserve their autonomy. This sets the stage for a showdown of epic proportions, the Battle of Red Cliffs(aka the Battle of Chibi).
My advice would be, if you are truly interested in what is going on in the movie, to study up on the period before watching the movie. The politics are very murky and you are introduced to a slew of characters in no time at all, many of whom have similar names. In other words, if can get very confusing. If you don't care about the history and just want some John Woo-style ass-kicking, then just sit back and enjoy the ride. There are huge battle scenes, and many of the characters are super badasses, slaughtering enemy soldiers with ease.
Whether you are into ancient Chinese history, or just another action-movie junkie, add Red Cliff to your list of movies to watch. Do not be daunted by the long run-time or the sub-titles, since you will soon get sucked into the story. Treat yourself to this one and you will not be disappointed.