John Woo’s Chi Bi (“Red Cliff”) is a big budget war epic with arrows flying, swords slashing and body parts being separated. All the good bits are shown in John Woo’s signature slo-mo style. The version I saw (Netflix rental) was the shortened one (still nearly two and a half hours). I wish I had gone for the full version (in two) parts – it’s that good.
It’s not just good in its action sequences, but the story line is engaging. These are some impressive characters – not cartoon cut-outs here. There’s a lot of detail on war strategy, formations, the importance of weather, and an early version of biological warfare and the like. But not to the movies detriment. These were fascinating, though the casual movie goer may find that hard to believe.
This is historical fiction, that doesn’t stray too far from the facts apparently, as it tells the story of the civil wars when China was three kingdoms, about 208 AD. Woo has given us an action film with some depth, and a thoroughly enjoyable epic tale.