Review contributed by Max Tan
The two instalments chronicle the events leading to the decisive battle at Red Cliff, resulting in the birth of the 3 Kingdoms during the Period of the Warring States in China.
The movie begins with the siege by the overwhelming Cao Cao northern expedition forces against the combined armies of the Kingdom of Wu, led by Sun Quan and Zhou Yu, and the army of Shu, led by Liu Bei and Zhuge Liang.
Kaneshiro Takeshi stars as the unfathomable, brilliant strategist Zhuge Liang, opposite Tony Leung, who plays the equally enigmatic Zhou Yu. Both stars well portray the famous strategists, especially Leung, whose role includes tender expressions of romance and love towards his wife “Xiao Qiao,” played by the stunning Taiwanese model Lin Chi Ling.
As with “Red Cliff 1,” “Red Cliff 2” is a breakaway from the usual “period drama/war movie.” Witty barbs and humorous portrayal of unlikely events lends an added dimension to the movie. Like any war movie, this one has its fair share of tactical discussions, war preparations and inspirational speeches.
Unexpected for those who watched “Red Cliff 1,” Tony Leung’s character is not the only one with romantic involvement. Zhao Wei’s character, Sun Shang Xiang, planted in the enemy camp as a spy, has more screentime as well. Her infatuation with the enemy captain is a romance doomed from the beginning.
The battle scenes resembling the wars fought in the “Lord of the Rings,” is interspersed with the swashbuckling antics of Zhao Yun and Zhou Yu, precipitating the showdown between Zhou Yu and Cao Cao.
All in all, the movie is entertaining and well-paced, with touches of well-thought out humor, and moments of affection delicately portrayed. The stellar cast of leading actors and actresses outdid themselves, making this 141-minutes film a movie worth watching for the casual moviegoer. Warring Kingdoms followers seeking historical accuracy would be disappointed, though.