Setting: Ancient China
Rating: 5 stars
Movie lovers enthralled by the first part of the Red Cliff saga will be thoroughly rewarded for watching Red Cliff Part 2. John Woo and his excellent cast starring Takeshi Kaneshiro, Tony Leung, and Zhung Fengyi create an epic worthy of grossing over $100 million in the Asian market. With great special effects that recreate colossal naval battles and a sparkling script full of intelligence and subtlety, Red Cliff Part 2 entertains during every moment.
The story picks up exactly where Part 1 left off. The imperial forces of the Han Dynasty as led by Cao Cao (Zhang Fengyi) have descended upon the fortress at Red Cliff where the Grand Viceroy Zhou Yu (Tony Leung) of the Eastern Wu Kingdom is holed up with his allies led by Liu Bei. The master strategist of Liu Bei, Zhuge Liang (Takeshi Kaneshiro) is working with Zhou Yu to craft plans to thwart the overwhelming invasion of Cao Cao.
Red Cliff Part 2 presents a wonderfully conceived dramatization of many principles explained in the classic Art of War by Sun Tzu. The character Zhuge continues to reveal his sharp intellect and far-ranging knowledge as he counters Cao Cao on many levels both physical and psychological. Zhuge uses weather to his advantage and takes a big gamble on the likelihood of shifting winds when a big naval battle begins. His ploys and cunning use of fire are truly artful as he makes war.
The struggle also emphasizes the critical roles of spies in waging war. Spies lend many advantages to the allies as the confrontation unfolds, both by gathering information about Cao Cao's camp and feeding him disinformation that undermines his trust in crucial commanders. Another elaborate ploy is achieved when Zhou Yu's wife, who is greatly coveted by Cao Cao, surrenders herself to Cao Cao. She hopes to prevent the battle by giving herself to him, but her goal is far more devious. No war that has already marshaled so many resources is going to be stopped by one woman, but she does significantly distract Cao Cao when he should be paying attention to his battle.
Red Cliff Part 2 rewards movie lovers with an intelligent action adventure that uses special effects but does not rely on them. The script and the actors are the strengths that empower this wonderful movie inspired by Chinese history and culture. Numerous plot twists and elaborate battle scenes constantly propel this movie that was a delight to experience.
As a fantasy writer, movies like Red Cliff stimulate my imagination. To enter an enticing world of magic and epic battle, read The Rys Chronicles fantasy series.