With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013
With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

Sunday, July 04, 2010

ACF 610: Red Cliff (original uncut international version) at NYAFF

Red Cliff (Uncut Original Version)
Directed by John Woo
China/Hong Kong, 2008/2009
In Mandarin with English subtitles
288 minutes (one 10-15 minute intermission is planned)

At the Film Society of Lincoln Center's Walter Reade Theater:
- Sunday, July 4th, 2010 at 5:45 PM.

Red Cliff is an epic tale set about a major battle just prior to China's Three Kingdoms period (220-280 A.D.). It's also a personal triumph for director John Woo. It was released in two parts for the Asian market and in a condensed version in the United States. NYAFF is screening the original, full-length Asian version with an intermission between the two parts.

Tony Leung as Zhou Yu

In the name of the Han Dynasty Emperor, Prime Minister Cao Cao (Fengyi Zhang) sets out with a huge army to "subdue" two kingdoms in the south. His motives actually may be more along the lines of ultimately uniting all the kingdoms under his personal rule. After being defeated by Cao Cao, Liu Bei (Yong You), the leader of one of the southern kingdoms, sends his his emissary and chief strategist Zhuge Liang (Takeshi Kaneshiro) to convince Sun Quan (Chen Chang), the ruler of the second southern kingdom, to join him in an alliance against Cao.

While many of his advisers urge surrender, Sun Quan ultimately accedes to the advice of Zhou Yu (Tony Leung), his chief military commander and others to join in the fight against Cao Cao, despite his overwhelmingly larger forces. The decisive Battle of Red Cliffs, otherwise known as the Battle of Chibi, took place in the winter of 2008/2009 A.D.

Takeshi Kaneshiro as Zhuge Liang

Obviously there are a considerable number of significant characters involved, but overall it's fairly easy to follow who's who and which side they're on. (I confess I might have had a slight advantage because I've played - and still own -- the PlayStation 1 fighting game Dynasty Warriors, which features and describes many of the main characters.) So while the story of the battle of Red Cliff may be a familiar one to almost all Chinese, even the unfamiliar viewer should be able to follow the story without any significant difficulty.

This uncut version of Red Cliff gets an unqualified ACF rating of 4 out of 4 stars; highest recommendation. It's a magnificent film with great acting, fantastic battle scenes, and top drawer special effects. You simply must see it.

Director John Woo

This screening of Red Cliff is presented in association with Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, New York.

And here's some useful info for those of you who can't make it to today's screening:

Red Cliff
was presented theatrically in the United States as a Magnet Release. The U.S. theatrical (shortened) version is available from Magnet on a single DVD. The original, full-length version, as is being presented at NYAFF, also is available from Magnet either as two separately packaged DVDs or in a single package containing both DVDs.

I own the single package with both DVDs and highly recommend it, if you can't see it on the big screen with a live audience of fellow Asian film fanatics. Both DVDs include worthwhile extras, especially those pointing out the difficulties this production faced, mainly from the vagaries of nature.

(All photos courtesy of Magnet Releasing)

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