Red Cliff story centers on the battle fought in China's Three Kingdoms period (220-280 A.D.) Directed by John Woo, this is the first in the paired films, introducing viewers to the origins of the great war.
An estimated US$80 million was budgeted for Red Cliff, making it (to date) the most expensive Asian film produced.
Red Cliff is visually breathtaking on the scale of Hollywoods cinematographic greats, compared by some to Lord of the Rings in set up.
From the film maker who produced some of the most ultra violent crime thrillers, which influenced the later part of the last century, this movie comes as a breath of fresh and exciting air. John Woo has returned to his origins with this traditional story of Chinese history, marking his place as one of the great directors of epic military battles.
He handles the intriguing plot poetically, unfolding the nuances of the battle between intellect and muscle as they pit against each other. Although loosely based on an ancient Chinese story, recounting the events which lead to the destruction of the Han dynasty, the films plot follows a popular war movie set up with the good guys being outnumbered by the bad guys and how they scheme to get out of their predicament.
Westerners may miss many of the subtleties; given the story of the battle is engrained into the myths and culture of the Chinese. There is a voice over narration which assists in identifying key characters and events, though this may be more of a distraction than assistance.
There were a few scenes (the Political intrigue) which may have not translated well into English, dragging somewhat.
The full two films are apparently over five hours long, though this is available at the moment as a bootleg version and one I have not been able to secure. Get the biggest screen you can to watch this, as the battle scenes need it.
Theatrical Poster via Wiki