Stunning, Redemptive Chinese Epic
Release Date: November 18, 2009
Genre: Historical Epic
Audience: Teenagers and adults
Runtime: 148 minutes
Distributor: Magnet Films/Magnolia Pictures Releasing
Director: John Woo
Producer: John Woo and Terence Chang
Address Comments To:Bill Banowski, CEO, Magnolia Pictures
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Eamon Bowles, President, Magnolia Pictures
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Based on a famous Chinese novel, but without most of the novel’s supernatural elements, the movie focuses on historical events in 208 A.D. at the end of the Han Dynasty in China. The Prime Minister is gathering power to eventually overthrow Emperor Han. He convinces the Emperor to wage war on the Kingdoms of Xu (“Chew”) in the West and Wu in the South.
After a heroic stand against the Prime Minister’s one million man army, the army of Xu’s leader, Liu Bei, makes their escape across the Yangtze River, trying to protect the thousands of refugees fleeing for their lives. Liu Bei sends his strategist, Kuongming to the Kingdom of Wu, where he consults with the Viceroy to establish an alliance against the Prime Minister. They agree to the alliance, and a series of battles occurs around the Red Cliffs, where the Viceroy lives in a fort.
Both sides have some tricks up their sleeves as the war continues. But, the biggest trick of all may come from the Viceroy’s beautiful, peace-loving wife, for whom the Prime Minister himself carries a torch.
RED CLIFF is a stunning, inspiring, well acted historical epic about a fight against tyranny. It also shows how friendship, courage, patriotism, and loyalty working together can defeat the tyranny of Big Government. In that sense, though it is somewhat romanticized, the movie clearly has a strong moral worldview. There is only one reference to Eastern religion in this Western subtitled version of John Woo’s two-part Chinese epic. This occurs when the strategist briefly mentions the yin/yang of nature as an explanation for how his expertise at reading changes in the weather can help the good guys develop a winning battle strategy against the evil Prime Minister and his forces.
There are a couple relatively light obscenities, a tasteful bedroom scene between the Viceroy and his beloved wife, and some very strong battle scenes with some blood. The violence does not seem as strong as Mel Gibson’s BRAVEHEART or WE WERE SOLDIERS, however. Thus, MOVIEGUIDE® advises caution for older children.
On the whole, however, RED CLIFF is a redemptive, morally uplifting foreign movie that’s well worth seeing.
RED CLIFF is a stunning, inspiring, well-acted historical epic about fighting against tyranny. Its morally uplifting worldview shows how friendship, courage, patriotism, and loyalty working together can defeat the tyranny of Big Government. The movie contains a couple obscenities, a bedroom scene, and some very strong battle violence, so caution for older children is advised.