Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Red Cliff

Just mention the names of Liu Bei, Guan Yu and Zhang Fei - and every Chinese scholar will sit up to take notice.

Pretty sure the famous canonical tale of the Three Kingdoms is practically hammered into the skulls of all Chinese students way back on the primary school bench. Somehow I've always imagined them chanting it daily by rote Communist-style! In a shockingly summarized nutshell, it tells the tale of third-century prime minister Cao Cao's quest to unite a divided China. Think of it as a Chinese version of the Knights of the Round Table. Hell, some bits of the story even managed to trickle down into my brain hence my scanty surface knowledge of the infamous characters brought to life in that classical tale.

Bringing such a legendary story to life would be a tremendous task to undertake - since everyone's bound to have their own take! - so I can already imagine the number of critical detractors. But when I was offered a free screening of the John Woo movie Red Cliff 赤壁 ( ostensibly based on the novel - and particularly the battle of the same name ), I practically jumped at the offer. Typically kiasu, I know.

Horse's mouth. Free gifts. I don't say no.

What can I say about the movie? Quite obviously a prelude to the grand climactic battle but it sets the essential foundations needed for the next. Great actors ( offering a who's who of male actors from the Chinese diaspora ), lovely cinematography, amazing fight scenes. You wouldn't expect any less from John Woo.

And then there's the brilliant military strategist Zhuge Liang. They definitely managed to put their own spin on the wily character! Never imagined that the renowned scholar - one you'd expect to be crabby / absentminded! - could turn out to be such a seductive fox.

His instrument of choice

Seriously. The intimate scenes between Zhuge and his warlike co-conspirators were so thick with sexual tension that you almost slice it with a knife. Even while making his diplomatic rounds at court, Zhuge Liang managed to entice the neighbouring king with his bewitching gaze under the shocked eyes of the officials.

What more with the king's trusted general Zhou Yu later that night! Just read between the lines and you'd wonder if you'd accidentally stumbled onto badly directed gay porn. Add that to the significantly heated eye-fucks they were giving each other and yeah... it could be possible.

Zhuge Liang : Why don't we play a tune together?
Zhou Yu : I believe you're only keeping your secret talents hidden.
Zhuge Liang : I'm sure we'd both make beautiful music if we manage to combine our talents in a duet.

Then again, Zhuge Liang was played by the extremely hawt Takeshi Kaneshiro so I'm not surprised that lots of folks were interested in playing his instrument.

I certainly wouldn't mind strumming his erhu.


kw said...

hi savante, i know its not an appropriate post here, but i desperately need to know abt ure accomodation in bangkok as ill be going there soon, please do email me at thanx.

Jaded_Jeremy said...

Red Cliff is great! A must for anyone who loves Romance of Three Kingdoms. I enjoyed it so much that it didn't feel it was 2.5hr long.

JACK said...

You could really make me a fan of movies I've never seen! You write extremely well - i will definitely be back.

Glog said...

Zhuge Liang is supposed to be brainy... But why didn't the books mentioned that he was that hot?

The Bible talked about David being hot...

I wonder...

Legolas said...

The Chinese say the movie is distorted, somehow, a lil bit.

Ryan said...

Takeshi's playing on the Gu Zheng? Hot!

mrs phillippe said...

usually movies made about these stories, including the Three Kingdoms, some part of the original story-lines will be changed for sure, distorted. People who do know the stories (or read the books) will of course feel frustrated, people like me who know little about them, will feel oblivious ;-) Looking forward to this movie, hope it's good

savante said...

Sent you a reply, kw. Go take a look.

But it has a second part. Dammit! I was cursing away at the end, jeremy.

Thanks, jack! Go take a look when it finally comes by your cinemas.

David was hot in the Bible. I believe he got voted one of the top ten, glog :) Joseph was on that list as well.

Well they had to make it more palatable for the masses, legolas.

Yes, he does play, ryan.

It is pretty good. At least I liked it, mrs philippe. Though my friends thought it was slow going.