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PHOTOGRAPHY

RED CLIFF Part I & Part II (Original International Version)

DVD Review by David Blackwell

 

DETAILS:  288 minutes, three featurettes, storyboards

VIDEO:  2.35:1 (Anamorphic Widescreen)

AUDIO:  Mandarin 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English, Spanish

 

STUDIO: Magnet Releasing/ Magnolia Home Entertainment/ China Film Group Corporation/ Avex Entertainment Inc/ Chengtian Entertainment International Holdings Limited/ CMC Entertainment/ Showbox/ Lion Rock

RELEASE DATE:  3-23-2010

RED CLIFF recounts the story of one of the most famous battles in Chinese history about the Three Kingdoms.   The battle at Red Cliff took place in 280 A.D. during the Han Dynasty.  This is a project that Director John Woo wanted to do for years and it took five years of planning.  RED CLIFF out grossed TITANIC in Asia and made as much as THE DARK KNIGHT did in Asia.  RED CLIFF is an engaging film about friendship and the cost of war.  

 

I first watched the two and half hour cut of the film, but the five hour uncut version is better.  The international version expands the characters and planning that both sides go through.   The two and half hour version loses alot of the storyline involving the Southlands Princess as you see much more of her spy work in Cao Cao's camp and her forming a friendship with a troop commander named Pitt.     Every main character is expanded in the five hour version which was originally presented as two films.   The international version is a more rewarding experience and anyone who loved the first one should see the uncut version in its five hour glory.

 

You have two sides to this war.  On one side is the bond of friendship between warriors, and you have the ruthless politician on the other end who doesn’t value friendship.   First, RED CLIFF paints the soldiers of Liu Bei and Zhou Yu as legends.  Second, you see what price the soldiers pay at the end.   One of them remarks there are no victors in war. 

 

RED CLIFF is working on several levels.  You have the princess who wants to do her duty for her country and she is a spy in Prime Minister Cao Cao’s camp collecting Intel for Zhou Yu.  Another character is Xiao Qiao, the wife of Zhou Yu and one of the most beautiful women in China, and she wishes for peace.  She reads the Art Of War to understand her husband and what he does.   She is the one that Cao Cao desires and he dreams of taking her as his own after he defeats the Southlands.  Then, there is the friendship that is formed between Zhou Yu and Zhuge Liang (one of the most brilliant minds in Chinese history).  They learn to respect each other.   Zhuge Liang manipulates the Southlands to fight with Liu Bei’s army against Cao Cao, but Zhou Yu knows it is a battle they must fight.   That brings me to General Zhang Fei who looks like an Asian version of Brian Blessed (who played Prince Vultan in the 1980s film, FLASH GORDON).

 

SPECIAL FEATURES:

THE MAKING OF AN EPIC: RED CLIFF-   a behind-the-scenes look at the filming of a movie that took one year to shoot.   It wasn’t all smooth sailing as they had to face rain one time and dry out the wet costumes because they had no replacements.  This half-hour featurette has interviews with crew, director, and the cast.

INTERVIEW WITH JOHN WOO: THE CARRIER’S FLIGHT FROM CONCEPT TO CREATION-   John Woo talks about this one sequence

 

MAKING RED CLIFF: TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS-  RED CLIFF went through many problems during filming like with the boats, the rain, a RC helicopter camera crashing, a baby not behaving during filming of scenes, and other problems that plagued the making of the film.

HDNET: A LOOK AT RED CLIF is a brief four minute promo fluff hyping RED CLIFF

 

FINAL ANALYSIS:  As a two and half theatrical film, RED CLIFF soars with it’s battle scenes and the planning that two sides go through still shows even though this is the five hour uncut version cut edited down to half the length.  If you want the full version and can sit down for five hours, check out the International Cut.   The International Version soars way above the theatrical cut and shows the character epic that John Woo has created.

 

this DVD review is (c)4-10-2010 David Blackwell and cannot be reprinted without permission.  send all comments to lord_pragmagtic@hotmail.com