Monday, January 30, 2017

Movie Review: The Great Wall

There are many stories and legends surrounding "The Great Wall of China" and it has often been the subject of many films. It was only a matter of time before critically acclaimed director Zhang Yimou, takes it on, while putting his own unique flare for colors and breath taking sequences. 

Adding monster mythology amidst a historical backdrop, "The Great Wall" becomes humanity's last hope, protecting the world from the "Tao Tei" -a horde of ravenous green monsters which attach every sixty years. Devouring and destroying everything in its path. 

The Nameless Order is a secret society whose members have dedicated their lives in fighting the "Tao Tei". Zhang Yimou transfers his signature love and use of colors on the armor and weapons of the "The Nameless Order". I personally enjoyed the different military techniques used in the movie (being a bit of a History / war geek myself). 

Much of the controversy surrounding the film comes at the casting of Matt Damon in the film, with accusations of white-washing. Damon was cast as William Garin a mercenary in search of black powder (gun powder) alongside Pedro Pascal who plays-Pero Tovar. Critics of the film have said that Damon's casting follows the 'white savior complex' -when in fact there are also a number of different characters in the film. Such as Jing Tian (Commander Lin), Andy Lau (Strategist Wang) and Lu Han (Peng Yong) and Damon's character is not necessarily the 'hero' of the movie but rather helps in the plot. He is also 'schooled' on some ancient Chinese principles by the feisty Lin. 

Zhang Yimou had said that, "for the first time a film deeply rooted in Chinese culture, with one of the largest Chinese casts ever assembled is being made at tentpole scale for a worldwide audience. I believe that this is a trend that should be embraced in the industry." He was also quoted at saying how amazed he was at the scale of people of different races (with so many translators), were working together. How I wish that people could see that in the film. Instead of just blindly accusing it as being "white washed". (God knows we need broader minds, these days). 

"The Great Wall" is an honest to goodness epic historical fiction action-adventure film, kudos to Legendary for the awesome job on those "Tao Tei" -those are some frightening monsters indeed. It is a thrilling action-adventure that will have you at the edge of your seat. I will have to agree on some critics on the cardboard characters in the film. Jing Tian was a bit awkward to watch as Commander Lin (but still beautiful) - especially her scenes with Matt Damon. Was not really a fan of Damon in this one, I enjoyed Pedro Pascal's performance more. Even if he was the comic relief in the film, he did so well that the audiences just loved him. Shout out to fans of K-Pop, Lu Han is a former member of the of the South Korean-Chinese boy group EXO. He plays an underappreciated (yet brave) soldier in the Nameless Order. If you are a fan, you wouldn't want to miss his Hollywood debut on the big screen.  

7.5 out of 10. "The Great Wall" delivers as promised. I love that Zhang Yimou tried a new formula, which is very different from his past works. He did not repeat any of his past tricks or techniques, even using new ones to keep you at the edge of your seat. 

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