(China/Hong Kong) Directed by Su Chao-pin, John Woo. Starring Michelle Yeoh, Jung Woo-sung, Wang Xueqi, Barbie Hsu, Kelly Lin, Shawn Yue. Category IIA.
Category IIB. For those unfamiliar with “Red Cliff,” here’s a recap. The Red Cliff series is the first Chinese film production John Woo has directed in 16 years. It has a star-studded cast and it’s the biggest-ever Asian-financed film, with a US$80 million budget. The story itself is about one of the best-known and important wars in ancient Chinese history.
Category IIB. In an ideal world, this film would spell the end of the big-budget Chinese historical war epic. Armed with an unprecedented US$80 million, John Woo has done the best that can be done for this unwieldy genre. Which is to say, he’s given it a single somewhat passable film, after a long line of lumbering catastrophes that have dragged the genre’s name through the mud like a horse pulling a fallen warrior by the neck.