Review: Red Cliff – Chibi (2009)


Red Cliff – Chibi (2009)

Directed by: John Woo | 158 minutes | action, drama, war, history | Actors: Chen Chang, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Chiling Lin, Shido Nakamura, Wei Zhao

Minister Cao Cao has defeated the most powerful warlords in the Han Empire. The only danger to the emperor’s rule might yet come from the southern lands. Cao Cao decides to head south with an immense army and an equally impressive fleet. Not that he expects much opposition. One warlord is too cowardly for resistance and the other too peace-loving.

Full of confidence and arrogance, Cao Cao travels down the Yangtze River on his way to the Red Cliff. Here he will celebrate his last great military triumph and after that all he has to do is replace the emperor on the throne. And as empress, he wants the most beautiful woman in China. She is still married to Zhou Ye (Tony Leung Chiu Wai), viceroy of the southern lands, but when his brother and therefore also Zhou Ye is conquered, nothing stands in the way of Cao Cao’s love happiness. But this Goliath has misjudged the determination of the southern countries to defend themselves against his violent intentions. Viceroy Zhou Ye unexpectedly manages to gather a group of faithful around him.

From a military point of view, the new allies are no match for the hundreds of thousands of soldiers that make up Cao Cao’s army and navy, but their ingenuity and mutual solidarity make them not to be underestimated as adversaries. Or is it just overconfident folly to think they have a real chance of defending themselves against Cao Cao’s overwhelming military might?

Anyone who knows the films of John Woo knows that he does not shy away from the grand gesture. For example, if he can image twenty explosions, he won’t get rid of just ten, even if the latter would also get the message across. Likewise here. He generously treats his audience to mass scenes that revive the old glamor of Hollywood, such as Cao Cao’s immense fleet against a breathtaking backdrop, battle scenes with an almost inexhaustible arsenal of weapons, horses and manpower and whirling martial arts. doctor.

Some scenes are so beautiful that they seem to come out of a fairy tale book. To make the superiority of Cao Cao’s army manageable, Zhou Ye and his followers use an old-fashioned but very effective battle method called ‘the turtle’. This means that by ingeniously maneuvering the shields of the troops, you enclose the enemy in small groups in narrow corridors and spaces from which these individual groups and individuals cannot escape. Exciting, spectacular and beautiful to watch.

This international version of ‘Red Cliff’ (in Asia the film was released in two parts) is full of spectacle, romance, camaraderie and brave heroes. A bit of explosions and fires, but beautifully captured.