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Old 2008-06-30, 02:07   Link #1
TinyRedLeaf
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Red Cliff (2008)

Also known in Mandarin as Chi Bi (no, not chibi aka "shortie", but 赤壁, literally "scarlet cliffs").

This will be the latest in a recent series of war epics based on Chinese history, set to open on 11 Jul 08. More interestingly, this is being directed by John Woo, who has not worked in Hong Kong cinema for some time. The synopsis of the movie is as follows:
Quote:
The story of RED CLIFF takes place in 208AD in China during the Later Han Dynasty (25AD to 220AD). Despite the presence of an emperor, Han Xiandi, China was then divided into many warring states.

The ambitious Prime Minister Cao Cao, by using the Emperor as his puppet, waged war on a kingdom in the west, Xu, ruled by the emperor’s uncle, Liu Bei. Cao Cao’s ultimate goal was to wipe out all the kingdoms and install himself as Emperor to a unified China. Liu Bei sent his military advisor Zhuge Liang as an envoy to the Wu Kingdom in the south, trying to persuade its ruler Sun Quan into joining forces. There he met Wu’s Viceroy Zhou Yu, and the two became friends amidst this uneasy alliance.

Enraged to learn that the two kingdoms have become allies, Cao Cao sent an army of eight hundred thousand soldiers and two thousand ships down south, hoping to kill two birds with one stone. Cao Cao’s army set up camp at Crow Forest, across the Yangtze River from Red Cliff, where the allies were stationed.

With the food supply running short, and the army vastly outnumbered by Cao Cao’s, the allies seemed doomed. Zhou Yu and Zhuge Liang had to rely on their combined wisdom to turn the tide of battle. Numerous battles of wits and forces, on land and on water, eventually culminated into the most famous battle in Chinese history, where two thousand ships were burned, and the course of China’s history was changed forever. That was the Battle of Red Cliff.
Needless to say, as a long-time fan of Koei's Romance of the Three Kingdoms (video game) franchise, and a closet Chinese chauvinist, I'm all pumped up for this historical epic, which stars Tony Leung (Hero, Infernal Affairs, In The Mood For Love) as Zhou Yu, and Takeshi Kaneshiro (House Of Flying Daggers, Onimusha[video game]) as Zhuge Liang.

(Frankly, I think both the actors have been mis-cast. In my opinion, Tony Leung makes a more likely Zhuge Liang, while Takeshi Kaneshiro is a more likely Zhou Yu, who was known for his beauty and vanity.)

For those who are unfamiliar with Chinese history or literature, the Battle of Red Cliff is one of the most dramatic battles chronicled in the Romance of the Three Kingdoms (the novel, not the video game). It represented a critical turning point in a generation of strife and warfare. At the time of the battle, Cao Cao had become the de facto leader of wealthy Northern China, and was set to crush all remaining opposition against his martial might. The alliance victory against his army at Red Cliff made it possible for Zhuge Liang's vision of a three-way balance of power to emerge over the following years -- between Cao Cao's Wei in the north, Liu Bei's Shu-Han in the south-west (roughly where Sichuan is today) and Sun Quan's Wu in the south-east.

More dramatically, the battle was also known for the intense rivalry between Shu-Han's Zhuge Liang and Wu's Zhou Yu. Both men were reputedly the most brilliant military strategists of their time, and Zhou Yu was famously jealous of Zhuge Liang's apparently greater intellect. The Battle of Red Cliff was as much a battle of egos between these two men, as it was a battle for survival between two smaller fiefdoms against an oppresive enemy.

Last edited by TinyRedLeaf; 2008-06-30 at 09:40. Reason: Koei not Konami; added link to quoted website
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Old 2008-06-30, 03:33   Link #2
Kang Seung Jae
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The only problem I have: The thing where they say 100 thousand versus a million.
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Old 2008-06-30, 08:37   Link #3
Kinny Riddle
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kang Seung Jae View Post
The only problem I have: The thing where they say 100 thousand versus a million.
Have you never heard of suspension of disbelief?

It's just like complaining there weren't really 300 Spartans against a million Persians in Thermopylae while watching "300".
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Old 2008-06-30, 08:45   Link #4
yezhanquan
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The actual facts of the battle are notoriously difficult to pinpoint. Yi Zhongtian once mentioned that if the rest of the novel (Romance of the 3 Kingdoms) is 70% fact, 30% fiction, it is then the other way round for Red Cliffs.

Cao Cao most certainly didn't have a million men, but the Liu-Sun alliance was outnumbered by at least 5-8 to 1.
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Old 2008-06-30, 10:00   Link #5
MakubeX2
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The video gaming generation of the west had already been informed of the battle of Red Cliff (as well as the majority of the cast of ROTK and most of the landmarked battles) via Dynasty Warriors since 2001 and I'm afraid that they need no introduction to what the movie is all about.

It is, however, interesting to note that the Asian release of thie movie will be a 2 parter with the first being released this Summer and the concluing episode scheduel to debut this winter totaling about 4-5 hours in total.

Those outside of Asia will get an abridged version all compacted to a 2 hour screening. Might as well, just in case those walk in expecting something akin to an action film akin to an live action Dynasty Warriors.
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Old 2008-06-30, 10:25   Link #6
Kinny Riddle
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As a self-styled history buff myself (more like a self-styled Three Kingdoms history buff ), I find it apt the movie is released exactly 1800 years after the battle itself, which I believe took place during winter, hence part 2 for winter.
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哀莫大於心死。
我對這裡的管理員的霸道與毫無準則的執法行為感到徹底失望﹗

It was fun while it lasted.
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Old 2008-06-30, 17:37   Link #7
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All there's now is to wait for the movie to come out ^^
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Old 2008-07-01, 20:34   Link #8
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Thanks for letting me know. Had no idea such a film was in the making. I should reread the RTK novel sometime then.
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Old 2008-07-11, 05:19   Link #9
TinyRedLeaf
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MakubeX2
It is, however, interesting to note that the Asian release of thie movie will be a 2 parter with the first being released this Summer and the concluing episode scheduel to debut this winter totaling about 4-5 hours in total.
Actually, it might have been a good idea to screen the abridged version in Asia as well, because I overheard some patrons walking out of the cinema wondering, "What happened? Why the sudden ending? Who won?" So, it's clear that even in East Asia, not everyone is familiar with the story, let alone in the US.

On the other hand, for those who know the story, the film was EPIC!

The movie started screening in Singapore today and I trooped down to the cinema as soon as I could. Watching Guan Yu, Zhang Fei and Zhao Yun come to life on the silver screen — graced with the stylo-mylo action that is the hallmark of John Woo at his best — is beyond awesome. Makes me want to break out my good ol' Dynasty Warriors to conquer China all over again on my PS2.

The first half of the movie covered Liu Bei's retreat from Jing province, Zhuge Liang's mission to forge an alliance with Sun Quan via Zhou Yu, the alliance's first victory against Cao Cao's cavalry (through the brilliant use of an "outdated" military formation) and ends just as Cao Cao's massive armada arrived at Red Cliff.

Judging by how the screenplay unfolded, it seems clear that John Woo has taken some artistic licence with the original novel. One extremely important general has been omitted from the alliance forces, which makes me wonder how the second half will unfold, because he plays a critical role in the strategem that would defeat Cao Cao's navy.

Also, female characters play a larger role in the movie than in the novel, which is not surprising given modern feminism. I'm referring to Zhou Yu's wife, Xiao Qiao, and Sun Quan's younger sister, Sun Shang Xiang (played by Zhao Wei, who reprises the tomboyish flair that propelled her to fame in Princess Pearl).

Finally, I take back my comment about Tony Leung and Takeshi Kaneshiro being miscasted. Kaneshiro at least puts a little bit more effort to portray Zhuge Liang, instead of just strutting around being a pretty boy, and so delivers an acceptable performance. And as the movie progressed, I remembered that Zhou Yu is supposed to be older than Zhuge Liang, after which it became easier to accept Leung's stoical portrayal of the famous viceroy.

Overall, Red Cliff has indeed become the movie for all other Chinese historical epics to emulate. It has set the bar very, very high and is an equal match for Hollywood fare such as Gladiator and Troy. What's more, it's not just empty-headed action, but interwoven with intelligent drama as well. It's an even greater pleasure to see Chinese military tactics portrayed with such authenticity. Go watch it if you can, especially if you're a Dynasty Warriors fan.
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Old 2008-07-11, 09:13   Link #10
MakubeX2
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As of time of this posting, I have booked a screening of this movie for the next evening.

Quote:
Actually, it might have been a good idea to screen the abridged version in Asia as well, because I overheard some patrons walking out of the cinema wondering, "What happened? Why the sudden ending? Who won?" So, it's clear that even in East Asia, not everyone is familiar with the story, let alone in the US.
So where have those people been ? Didn't they play Koei's long-running Stratedy Games on the PC or played at least one title of DW on their PS2 ? I can forgive them for not reading the novel, but come on, Three Kingdoms had been in Pop Cultures through the ages since like forever. They must have encounter tales of Red Cliff in some part of their life.

Quote:
One extremely important general has been omitted from the alliance forces, which makes me wonder how the second half will unfold, because he plays a critical role in the strategem that would defeat Cao Cao's navy.
Let me put an intelligent guess. Huang Gai is too important to do way with as he is an inside mole. But Pang Tong, who suggest chaining Cao's navel fleet together can be ignored. And I have not head of any actors being casted as Pang Tong, so it must be him.And besides the role Pang played in the part of the Red Cliff episode is very cameo-lish.

Quote:
Go watch it if you can, especially if you're a Dynasty Warriors fan.
No way, DW fans expect Lu Bu to appear in one form or the other in the show. But Lu Bu had already been dead for ages.
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Old 2008-07-12, 11:34   Link #11
Kinny Riddle
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A good adaptation, by the end of the battle I sensed "this is gonna extend to a part 2, so I'd better not get my hopes up that the battle itself will be shown".

As a Three Kingdoms buff in my younger days, the movie was quite satisfactory.

As usual, Takeshi and Tony Leung are absolute hunks, in whatever role they play.

Chang Chen was also quite dashing as Sun Quan, portraying well the young warlord, who inherited the vast enterprise that his father and brother fought so hard to establish, but still ambitious to want to make his own mark in history.

Though Cao Cao was still portrayed as the villanous usurper as usual, I like Woo's new portrayal of Zhou Yu, which I believe does his character more justice than in the novel.

In the novel, he's usually ridiculed as a bitterly jealous genius who would take every opportunity to get rid of Zhuge Liang, and would always get outwitted and fail miserably, leading to him to eventually die a bitter man. Makes one wonder whether the author Luo Guangzhong bears a grudge against this guy. (Though since he portrays anyone who plots against Liu Bei's camp as villains anyway, it's probably no surprise. )

In contrast, Tony Leung's portrayal is of a brilliant general with a genuine respect for his upcoming rival. In historical accounts, he died from an infection caused by an arrow wound. The arrow wound he received while heroically dodging an arrow for Zhao Yun would probably play a part in part 2.

My friend, a Dynasty Warrior fanatic, noted that it was a pity that the insanely powerful Lu Bu was long dead by the time of this epic battle, or it can be even more exciting, lol.


Quote:
Originally Posted by TinyRedLeaf View Post
Judging by how the screenplay unfolded, it seems clear that John Woo has taken some artistic licence with the original novel. One extremely important general has been omitted from the alliance forces, which makes me wonder how the second half will unfold, because he plays a critical role in the strategem that would defeat Cao Cao's navy.
And who may that be? If you're talking about Huang Gai, he already appeared during Zhuge Liang's audience with Sun Quan as the old general in the pro-war faction sitting on the right of Sun Quan. Due to the length of the story, it was obvious his crucial role will not come until part 2. Otherwise, I don't know who you're talking about.
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哀莫大於心死。
我對這裡的管理員的霸道與毫無準則的執法行為感到徹底失望﹗

It was fun while it lasted.
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Old 2008-07-12, 12:02   Link #12
MakubeX2
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Seen the movie. My biggest nitpick will be a nagging lack of Red Hare. Guan Yu inherit that famous steed from Lu Bu via a gift from Cao Cao and it's well known in ROTK that he rides it into each and every battle. But he was never seen with that horse in the 2 battle that was in the movie.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kinny Riddle View Post
In contrast, Tony Leung's portrayal is of a brilliant general with a genuine respect for his upcoming rival. In historical accounts, he died from an infection caused by an arrow wound. The arrow wound he received while heroically dodging an arrow for Zhao Yun would probably play a part in part 2.
Not really, Historical Account mention that he died during a preparation for an expedition. Most likely due to an epidemic. The arrow wound was an invention from ROTK, a lethal does of jealousy and a hot head accelerate the process.

Quote:
And who may that be? If you're talking about Huang Gai, he already appeared during Zhuge Liang's audience with Sun Quan as the old general in the pro-war faction sitting on the right of Sun Quan. Due to the length of the story, it was obvious his crucial role will not come until part 2. Otherwise, I don't know who you're talking about.
It's Pang Tong as I've said. Cao Cao was having an headache of how to climatise his nothern troops to southern climate. His troops was unsuited to naval battle and could not fight with all the swaying of boats.

In came Pang Tong, suggesting that Cao chained his boats altogether to stablise his fleet and get rid of the seasickness of the troops, not knowing that this will hasten his defeat in the near future.

You should be clear of this if you have read the novel.
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Old 2008-07-12, 13:07   Link #13
Kinny Riddle
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You should be clear of this if you have read the novel.
Of course I've read the bloody novel, all 120 chapters of it, though it's been a long time ago.

As you yourself have said, Pang's role is more of a cameo appearance more than anything in RotK, as historical accounts make no mention of him in Red Cliff. Not to mention his cameo just seemed forced by Luo Guangzhong, so his omission by Woo didn't seem odd.


BTW, in all his movies since the 1980s, Woo still seems to be very obsessed with pigeons. (When Zhuge Liang released his pigeon and it flew from the Sun encampment to the Cao encampment on the opposite shore, I swore I would've LOL'ed if it got shot down by an arrow. )
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哀莫大於心死。
我對這裡的管理員的霸道與毫無準則的執法行為感到徹底失望﹗

It was fun while it lasted.
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Old 2008-07-15, 19:54   Link #14
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part 2 of the film will be done next year.

i read the novel online.., gosh it was killing my eyes to read through so many chapters but its just too interesting to stop lol.
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Old 2008-07-15, 20:30   Link #15
yezhanquan
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First the novel, then the actual history. The novel did have many fictional accounts; after being familiar with them, it's quite refreshing to know what was actually recorded in the history books.

First of all, Zhou Yu and Zhuge Liang were considered to be handsome for their time, especially the former. The fact that he was called Zhou Lang said something about his looks (Oh, and his missus...).

Also, in the history books, Miss Sun (Sun Quan's sister; her name wasn't really Shang Xiang) was probably more militant than we thought. It was recorded that in her presence, even a military leader/hero like Liu Bei will "feel a chill going up his spine". Although she took part in no battles, I wouldn't be surprised to know that if she really entered battle, it ends up being a Dynasty Warriors scenario.
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Old 2008-07-25, 22:08   Link #16
demiurge
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I have yet to see the movie. Fan of the ROTK series (not so much of the DW series). Was wondering if anyone had a link for online reading of the actual histories and not the fiction made by the novel. I had links before but never got finished checking them out and of course they are dead now =(

Thanks for the help!
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Old 2008-07-25, 22:15   Link #17
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I have some friends who are Chinese history puritans and they refuse to watch the movie because it fails to depict the essence the "three kingdom". I on the other hand will think they are crazy and watch it.

Also there is a series made by mainland China which is fairly long, i have not seen it yet but my friend said it was exciting and the use of facts was not too shabby but dont count on it being exact.
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Old 2008-07-29, 02:24   Link #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bbduece View Post
I have some friends who are Chinese history puritans and they refuse to watch the movie because it fails to depict the essence the "three kingdom". I on the other hand will think they are crazy and watch it.

Also there is a series made by mainland China which is fairly long, i have not seen it yet but my friend said it was exciting and the use of facts was not too shabby but dont count on it being exact.

I was fanatic in my early ages about historical accuracy, but I think it's nuts to not enjoy such a fantastic piece made from historical fiction now. Also, the series from mainland China...is that the 84-episode tv series you're making note of? If so, I've recently started watching it and it follows the novel quite well.

I believe what I need is a link for is translations of the Sanguozhi, if I'm remembering correctly.

=/
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Old 2008-11-06, 13:23   Link #19
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Red Cliff (2008) by John Woo

This Chinese film, which derives from a chapter in the Chinese Classic "Romance of the Three Kingdoms" is a '300 Spartans' stylized epic version of the Battle of Red Cliff.

Looks to be quite the 'movie to see' for buffs of John Woo or fans of period action films.

Film review: http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-b...0081106r1.html

In case the link dies:
Spoiler for Text of news story link:
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Old 2008-11-06, 13:28   Link #20
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I'll just say that this was a great movie the last time I watched. Its a trilogy I think, a sequel is coming very soon.
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