Wednesday, 6 January 2010


Out Now on DVD and Blu-ray
Icon Home Entertainment

After more than a decade working in Hollywood with varying degrees of success – props for Face/Off; Mission: Impossible II not so much – director John Woo returned to China (he was born there but lived mostly in Hong Kong) to make this historical epic.

And while some of his idiosyncrasies remained in tact while stateside – his penchant for slow-mo for one – this is, understandably, Woo's most 'Chinese' film in years: epic, sumptuous, balletic battle scenes and just a hint of the mystical.

Recounting an historic battle in China circa 208 AD, between imperial forces and those of a combined but vastly outnumbered provincial army, Red Cliff is a David and Goliath tale or, for an Australian reference, a Chinese Gallipoli, although that doesn't work quite as well since the underdogs there didn't fare as well as their Chinese counterparts.

Red Cliff is being released in both its original two-part four hour plus version, The Battle of Red Cliff, as well as the combined and condensed (133 minutes) version which was distributed in Western countries. While the shorter version is an impressive film you can't help but notice that large sections of narrative have been excised.

Still, not everyone has a spare four hours to set aside to watch a film but then DVD and Blu-ray technology allows one to bend a film to their will and schedule. You'll know if you're best prepared for a short campaign or a battle royale.

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