Red Cliff (2008)

Popcorn Ratings: 4 stars

One of the rare oriental movie that I watched. And was it long. Two parts each about a couple of hours.

But then it’s John Woo and he has raised the bar way too high. On a quick trivia that the war scenes are twice the size of those in Lord of the Rings. Now that I got you interested, read further 🙂

What is Red Cliff?
Red Cliff is a battle between two armies. Chinese armies to be more precise.

So what is special about Red Cliff? The story is vanilla about good guys versus the bad ones. But what stands out are three interesting observations.
– the Chinese art of battles
– loyalty, leadership and amazing role assignment
– Chinese ethics and culture


The movie is about the Han Dynasty in ancient China and is adapted from the 14th-century Chinese novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms.

The antagonist Prime Minster Cao Cao intends to seal the Empire and the final frontier is the Red Cliff.

What follows is almost like the movie version of that ancient Chinese military philosophy The Art of War.

Also the often quoted wisdom that all warfare is based on deception. Teams spy with pigeon and over football (now that one claim, the Chinese can make citing the movie).

The sea battle and the clever ploy is surreal. Points to one amazing team led by an excellent leader and ably supported by his able and wide minister. If there is one movie on Chinese history you choose to watch, then pick this one by the acclaimed John Woo.


Why is there so much pain in this world?

It is as if pain finds you, no matter where you are and what you think. I am not referring to the physical pain, which too forms a part of this and perhaps is manifested in its other crude and dirty forms like in hunger, illness or accidents.

Is there a reason for pain? Imagine a career of a young doctor. All his life, she struggles for an education, she deserves but is unable to afford. But despite the odds, she obtains her degree. Meets and falls in love with a young and passionate doctor. They have a lovely family, blessed with two daughters. It seems nothing can go wrong and then she is diagnosed with a terminal illness. I am not sure what is more painful, the slow and sure death or the feeling of helplessness in seeing your young cheerful and innocent daughters being left abandoned. Spare a tear for her dutiful husband who is willing to go to any length to have some more time together.

Time, then, must be the most unusual and sophisticated creation. With time we live and by time we die. The passing of time has seen it all. The movements of the earth’s tectonic plates to the sprouting of the seeds. And yet, at these very moment, time seems to pause. It ceases to move. Time is like a free flowing liquid that is now contained in a jar.

The answers are contained in the lessons from history. History must be understood to understand the human tragedies. The human pain. The agonies of losing loved ones over territorial wars. The pain of seeing entire towns suffer through black deaths and plagues. The loss of human lives when we don’t understand our own moralities. And yet, ‘time seems to stand still. ‘

And as if some divine intervention happens to give me a clue. My air hostess serves me water in a cup that says, ‘time flies.’ Well, the only divinity of this was that this happened 20,000 feeds above the sea level.

Remember ‘pain’ is universal. Suffering is OPTIONAL. Be brave. Learn from History.