Link: Red Cliff (2008)

I saw this movie a couple weeks ago. I was confused at first when I mentioned it to others because there are apparently a couple different versions floating around. There’s the one on Netflix which I saw, that is the “short” version — and then there’s the “long” version which is in two parts.

Really, I would like to see the whole thing but I can wait on that for now. I only get so much time to watch movies anyway. But seriously, I would. This movie was awesome. Between Red Cliff and another movie I saw recently — The Assassins — I’m starting to get The Three Kingdoms. Maybe not facts so much as events.

Now, the events portrayed in The Assassins occur within ten years (206-210 AD) of the events of Red Cliff, and I watched the movies within a couple weeks of each other — which was how I started putting names and events together.

So — Red Cliff involves a massive attack led by Cao Cao against the kingdoms of western and southern China, culminating in a real life Helm’s Deep in which an army of about 50,000 holds off 200,000 (mentioned as being more than 800,000 in the film). Did I mention it was diected by John Woo? ‘Cause you can tell.

There’s lots of war scenes — heroes doing all kinds of crazy stuff, but it’s generally awesome rather than “magical.” While the movie is definitely bordering on fantasy, nothing is really overt and mostly it just comes off as “like real life, but with more awesome.” In other words, like a good martial arts flick.

My favorite part — which is sadly fictionalized — involves the Strategist “borrowing” a hundred thousand arrows from Cao Cao by constructing boats of straw and sailing out in a fog to simulate an attack. The event may have been inspired by something that happened later — but not at Red Cliff.

Anyway, the straw boats collected all the arrows fired at them — so many that the boats began to tip. They turned the boats around to collect arrows on the other side. And thus, balance was restored. Lol.

The film is surprisingly upbeat compared to what I was expecting. I went in expecting a full-on tragedy, and I got a heroic martial arts fantasy. The “good guys” even win! I’m not sure if there are a lot of “good guys” in Chinese history, but that’s how they were portrayed in the film. *shrug*

Awesome movie — going to have to find the full version somewhere.