2008/2009 - Red Cliff
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Joined: 04 Jan 2008
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2008 5:41 pm    Post subject:

Woo’s the king maker
by Sharon Wong

WHAT makes a blockbuster? A renowned director, popular actors, and not to mention a good script would no doubt make the grade. Come next month, you’ll be able to catch one such movie.

It’s the year’s biggest and most anticipated action epic – John Woo’s Red Cliff.

With a budget of US$80 million (RM263 million), this is Asia’s most expensive production. It features a stellar cast including Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Chang Chen, Lin Chi Ling, Zhang Fengyi and Hu Jun, among others.

Based on events during the infamous Three Kingdoms period in ancient China, Red Cliff comes in two parts – the first will be released here on July 31 before the Olympics, as it is thought by the Chinese government to be a showcase of China’s history, and the second in December this year.
The Battle of Red Cliff between the allied forces of the southern warlords Liu Bei and Sun Quan and the bigger army of the northern warlord Cao Cao was a decisive turning point in China’s history.

It tells of how the southern warlords, with the help of brilliant strategist Zhuge Liang, successfully frustrate the latter’s effort to conquer the land south of the Yangtze River and reunite the territory of the Eastern Han Dynasty.

The victory ensured the survival of Liu Bei and Sun Quan and provided a line of defence that became the basis for the eventual creation of the two southern kingdoms of Shu Han and Eastern Wu. Hence the battle’s significance in Chinese history.

The battle was immortalised in the widely read novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms, which spawned numerous video games and comic books. Director John Woo had been attracted to it for more than 20 years.

However, neither technology nor the market was ready to support a film of this scale and magnitude at the time.

His dream finally came to fruition in 2004 when plans for financing and producing it went under way in Beijing.

Delicately balancing history and entertainment, Woo made his adaptation with the global audience in mind.

While Asians are familiar with the numerous generals and characters in the story, Westerners might be confused by the similar faces and names. Thus, it was decided to split the movie into two parts – one for the Asian market, and the other, a trimmed down version marketed as a “John Woo action film” for the international audience.

With the many characters from history imprinted on modern minds through comics and video games, it was quite a challenge to cast them in a movie.

Woo wanted to remain faithful to history and was determined to cast actors who resembled the characters’ descriptions in history books.

Kaneshiro is the tall and handsome Zhuge Liang. Zhuge happens to be Kaneshiro’s childhood idol.

The portrayal of the Wu Kingdom’s viceroy, Zhou Yu, falls upon award-winning actor Leung. Fans would be able to catch the versatile actor playing a period general for the first time, displaying his gallantry in full armour on horseback.

Others in the cast include Chang Chen as Sun Quen, the first emperor of the Kingdom of Wu, Taiwanese model Lin in her film debut as Xiao Qiao (Zhou Yu’s wife), Vicki Zhao Wei as Sun Shangxiang, Sun Quen’s younger sister who is married to Liu Bei, You Young as Liu Bei, the first emperor of the Kingdom of Shu, Hu Jun as Zhao Yun, a top general of the Kingdom of Shu, and Zhang Fengyi as Cao Cao, the last chancellor of the Eastern Han Dynasty and the founder of the Kingdom of Wei.

Photography in Red Cliff commenced in April last year on CCTV’s lot in Zhuo Zhou, Hebei Province, China.

There are two major battle scenes in the movie that is fraught with suspense – one is fought on water and the other on land.

The planning of the river battle, which sees Cao Cao’s ships capsizing and burning after “fire boats” led by the allies charge into them, took more than a year with 18 full-scale ships built on site.

The land battle is the finale of the film, where Leung’s Zhou Yu leads his troops to attack in order to save his wife, who is being kept prisoner by Cao Cao.

This is the memorable scene when Zhou Yu and his nemesis Cao Cao finally face off across a sea of fire.

According to Woo, the most attractive element in the film are not the characters idealised by the novel but the universal heroism that cuts across cultures.

“Deep inside, we all share the same values,” he said.

Let's hope we in the west get to see the Chinese version.

Pour l'essentiel, l'homme est ce qu'il cache - André Malraux
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 18, 2008 2:18 pm    Post subject:

I have been a John Woo fan for a long time. Even though I am not Chinese and it can rightfully be assumed, that I may become confused or even lost in some parts of the story telling, but we all deserve to see Mr. Woo's full vision. To not see a film on the "Big Screen" like it was intened looses much of it's grandure, that can not be duplicated at home on video. And to edit the film in the way you have discribed, is simply hacking away the truth of a culture. We all need to see how alike we truely are. We need more films that are produced, writen, acted and directed by it's own people and be allowded to play in it's entirety as they have intended. Like many directors Mr. Woo may release a director's cut to be released on home video. But the most important thing is exposure and the way the media previews the film here in the States. I think that's what hindered Lust, Caution here. If the public is given the impression that it's "TOO CHINESE TO UNDERSTAND", other than an amazing film that should not be missed, would deffinately be a tragedy and an insult. It might not be our story, but we all know what love, heartbreak, triumph and loss is.

Tony is Grrrrrrrrrrrrrreate
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Joined: 15 Aug 2007
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Location: Mexico City, Mexico

PostPosted: Thu Jun 19, 2008 9:38 am    Post subject: Red Cliff

I agree with you, I too was disapointed to hear that us westerners will have to settle for a shorter version. I like John Woo's films, my husband has been a Woo fan for a long time, and it was thanks to him, that we got into Asian cinema, thus, I really, really want to see the movie.

I understand that sometimes you have to make choices so that your film will appeal a larger audience. But it would be nice if they could show BOTH versions in the West, giving us a choice. Like they did with Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet. Al least in Mexico, they released a short version in most movie theaters, and the full version in a few others. I went to the see the full version, and the theater was literally packed.

If this does not happen, then I'll do what I did for Lust, Caution, and Confession of Pain, and other Asian movies. Buy the DVD as soon as it is released in China with English subtitles and hope that one day I will be able to watch it on the big screen.
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 20, 2008 8:39 am    Post subject:

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2008 12:12 pm    Post subject:

Last edited by Info on Mon Jun 23, 2008 12:31 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2008 9:33 am    Post subject:

"Red Cliff" to Come Out Huge

2008-06-25 20:58:46

Director John Woo wants his new film "Red Cliff" to have a memorable opening, and the construction of a massive set where the film will premiere started one week ahead of time.

The tourism hotspot Wuhou Memorial Temple in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, where "Red Cliff" will have its global premiere on July 3, welcomed on Wednesday the arrival of ten cargo trucks loaded with equipment, West China Metropolis Daily reports.

On the trucks were sound and stage lighting instrument worth over one million yuan (145,679 U.S. dollars), the newspaper says.

At the center stage, workers have repainted the old red wall, and in the following days they will install complex stage decorations and several LCD walls.

Because "Red Cliff" is about a historical battle in 208 AD during the Three Kingdoms period, rows of ancient battle drums will be displayed at the sides of the stage.

On the night of the premiere, the number of performers will excel 2,000, West China Metropolis Daily says. A hundred relief workers of the Sichuan earthquake will be invited to the event, and ten of them will walk the red carpet with film stars.

Wuhou Memorial Temple was chosen to host the premiere because it was built to pay tribute to Zhuge Liang, a legendary military strategist in the Three Kingdoms period who is one of the protagonists in "Red Cliff," portrayed by Takeshi Kaneshiro.

The film, to be released in two segments, also features Tony Leung, Chang Chen, Chiling Lin, and Zhao Wei.
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2008 7:28 pm    Post subject:

Last edited by Info on Sun Jun 29, 2008 5:56 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 26, 2008 4:17 pm    Post subject:

John Woo's interview


【明報專訊】在荷李活發展多年的吳宇森(John Woo)導演,為圓自己的夢想,終於回歸祖國,以7000萬美元(約5.5億港元)打造分成兩集的華語戰爭片《赤壁》,上集率先在7月面世,下集則預算在年底推出。不過該片自去年開拍以來多災多難,先有易角、演員和幕後離組、演員受傷、超支、塌場景、沉船等事件,本月初更發生火燒船意外造成一死六傷。拍戲如打仗,John遇上從影中最棘手的作品,他如何面對重重難關呢?














此片拍到超支超時,有說John要自掏數百萬美元出來完成拍攝?雖然他不肯透露投資額,但堅信可以回本。John說﹕「我沒給自己壓力、要收多少票房,只想拍出一部國際電影。錢當然重要,但不能太計較,大家誠心去做,若然停了,會好泄氣,我太鍾意電影了。今次比較特殊,為了一場關鍵性的戲分,就拿錢出來當投資。別人以為我賺很多,其實我只曾試過兩次,當有好的靈感,就容許自己改動;好像拍西片《Face Off》有場小朋友在槍林彈雨下聽歌,劇本原先沒這場戲,我提議拍,但公司回應沒錢,我就自己出錢拍,公司看過後也很滿意,之後部戲賺錢,都將錢歸還給我。」

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 28, 2008 6:46 am    Post subject:

Woo puts career on the line with `Red Cliff` blockbuster

The Korea Herald

June 27, 2008

Director John Woo, widely known here for his masterful "A Better Tomorrow" series and "The Killer," seemed deeply reluctant to take any chance in marketing his ambitious big-budget historical movie "Red Cliff."

At a press conference held on Wednesday in posh W Hotel in eastern Seoul, Woo led a traditional Korean ritual to invoke spirits. The ritual`s single-handed purpose - a huge box-office success for "Red Cliff."

The unprecedented marketing gesture illustrates the intensity of Woo`s passion - and concerns - about the forthcoming movie, which cost $80 million to produce. What`s more, "Red Cliff" is not a single movie; it`s the first installment of a two-part series. The second installment will come out later this year.

"This movie is to realize my 18-year dream," John told reporters. "I was given generous opportunities to make films in Hollywood, but it seemed like Western people did not understand our culture accurately. This movie is part of my efforts to help them get a better picture of our culture and spirit."

Woo went on to proclaim that "Red Cliff" is the most important film he has ever made.

The press conference was the world-first appearance of Woo and his star-studded cast members to the public. "Red Cliff" is set to be released on July 10 in Korea.

The movie showcases the spectacle of grand-scale battles in autumn of 208 A.D. - a turbulent period of Chinese history that is featured in the popular historical novel, "The Romance of Three Kingdoms." The original novel is extremely popular with Korean readers, a plus for the film adaptation of the historical saga.

Among the main cast present at the press conference was Tony Leung, who plays Zhou Yu in "Red Cliff." He left an indelible impression with his impassioned role in "Lust, Caution."

Asked about the traditional musical instrument he plays in the film, he said he found it difficulty to synchronize his hand gestures to the tune because he does not play it himself. When a seemingly ardent fan-cum-reporter asked about how he looks sexier, Leung smiled and replied that men become more mature as they get older, perhaps because life experiences add to the internal charm.

Chen Chang, who plays Sun Quan, said he felt a surge of excitement on the production site when he was filming. "When I put on the traditional clothes and got ready for shooting, I felt as if I`m actually in the very battlefield in that ancient era."

Wu Chin-cheng, also known as Takeshi Kaneshiro, said that he was not bothered by the absence of action scenes allocated for his role, Zhuge Liang, the paragon of a masterful war strategist. "I focused on sharpening my inner feelings that can be reflected on the screen, and watched other related films to add more depth to the character."

Lin Chiling, who makes a silver-screen debut with "Red Cliff," said she was under a lot of pressure in playing the role of Xiao Qiao, but she found the character intriguing and attractive. "Xiao Qiao is realistic and relies on her husband to see the world, but she is, at heart, very passionate about peace, which I hope will be relayed to the audience," she said.

The movie, showing off a number of massive battles and numerous extras, builds up necessary dramatic tension and provides a basic storyline right before the make-or-break battle at the Red Cliff starts. The full-scale battle at the cliff will play out in the second installment, to be released around the winter season.

By Yang Sung-jin
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 28, 2008 11:38 am    Post subject:

Behind the scenes: or

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 29, 2008 11:56 pm    Post subject:

Red Cliff release theme song MV


06-30-2008 09:13

The highly-anticipated blockbuster Red Cliff prepares for its premiere.

It's said "Red Cliff" will be the most elegant Chinese film in history. Every detail of the production has been pored over by media and the public. That makes the theme music a big deal. The producer unveiled the tune and the MV in Beijing early this week. It's called "Heart War", resonating the spirit of John Woo's interpretation of the Three Kingdoms - fight for peace.

Japan's Kazuhito Kikuchi composed the tune. Well known Taiwan music producer Francis Lee wrote the lyrics. Lee said at the release - he believes the battle of the three ancient kingdoms was a battle of heart.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2008 1:17 pm    Post subject:

Last edited by Info on Sun Jul 06, 2008 8:09 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 03, 2008 7:18 pm    Post subject:

Red Cliff Set to Lift Quake Gloom

2008-07-03 09:02:48 China Daily

By Liu Wei

Films have a very important social role to play. That view will be consolidated tonight when China's most expensive blockbuster premieres at an iconic venue in Chengdu.

The country's film community has done much to help the May 12 earthquake survivors in Sichuan province. But the opening of $80-million Red Cliff (Chibi) could well be the most helpful.

Directed by Hong Kong-born veteran John Woo, Red Cliff opens Wendesday night in Chengdu's Wu Hou Shrine - the first time such an event will be held in a top cultural heritage building.

Woo, who has worked in Hollywood too, is also the first person to organize a big public event in the capital of Sichuan province after the quake.

The shrine, built in AD 223, consists of memorial halls and mausoleums of warlord Liu Bei and his strategist Zhuge Liang - both of whose characters play leading roles in the film - and ministers and generals of the Shu kingdom, one of the three kingdoms that co-ruled China from 220 to 280.

About 2,000 people will watch the film tonight, but before that they have to pass through six security checks.

And the grand stage in front of Jianxin Hall in the shrine complex will see about 2,000 actors perform live.

Elementary school students will recite an ancient poem about history, traditional Sichuan mask-changing performers will show their electrifying skill, and musicians will play the ancient instrument, guqin, an important prop in the film too.

The film's behind-the-scene footage will also be screened, as will be its 10-minute trailer.

Woo has invited 100 doctors, nurses, soldiers, volunteers and journalists who experienced the quake and helped with the rescue and relief work or reported about them to attend the ceremony. Ten of them will walk the red carpet with the stars.

Xie Hui, head of the Wu Hou Shrine, says the premiere will show people that Chengdu is recovering from the quake.

Mainland actor Hu Jun, who plays a fearless general in the film, says he will be more than delighted if the film can help people forget their pain and regain courage even for two hours.

The local government has supported Woo's effort wholeheartedly. The film that has grabbed Asia's and the world's attention even before being screened is considered by many as an excellent vehicle that can promote Chengdu.

Grand opening ceremonies have become more of a norm with Chinese blockbusters after Zhang Yimou's Hero premiered in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing six years ago.

For his Curse of the Golden Flower, about 50 million yuan ($7.3 million) was spent on its premiere two years ago. And the opening ceremony of Chen Kaige's The Promise cost 20 million yuan ($2.9 million).

Red Cliff hits the screen on the Chinese mainland, and in Hong Kong and Taiwan, on July 10. Its global release is scheduled for next year.
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 03, 2008 7:21 pm    Post subject:

International Herald Tribune

Director John Woo returns to Chinese film with historical epic 'Red Cliff'

The Associated Press

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

HONG KONG: After 16 years directing Hollywood movies, John Woo is returning to Chinese film with an ambitious two-part historical epic that he hopes will also appeal to Western audiences.

"Red Cliff," whose first installment is due out in Asia later this month, is based on a famous battle in divided third-century China that saw 2,000 ships burned, and draws from a storied period in Chinese history that has spawned comic books and video games.

Expectations are high for the movie.

Loaded with Asian stars including past Cannes winner Tony Leung Chiu-wai and Taiwanese-Japanese heartthrob Takeshi Kaneshiro, and backed by investors from China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, Woo says he has already spent more than US$70 million on the project — a huge sum by Asian filmmaking standards.

Hollywood trade publication Variety says the "Red Cliff" is the most expensive Asian production ever.

Critical reception is also at stake for the director, who has not made a full-length movie since two lackluster Hollywood productions — the 2003 sci-fi flick "Paycheck" and the 2002 war film "Windtalkers," which an Associated Press review said "might just be the most unfocused movie John Woo has ever made."

Woo, a Hong Kong native who made hits like "Face/Off" and "Mission: Impossible II," has not directed a Chinese movie since the 1992 action thriller "Hard-Boiled."

It hasn't been an easy transition back to Chinese film.

The main stars of the movie, Leung, and Chow Yun-fat — whom Woo cast as the iconic gun-toting, trench coat-wearing gangster Mark in his 1986 movie "A Better Tomorrow" — backed out at the last minute, although Leung later returned to the cast.

A stuntman died in an accident and torrential rains washed away part of an outdoor set in northern China.

Producer Terence Chang said it took time to navigate the Chinese film industry and for Woo's multinational crew to get used to working with Chinese crew members.

"It's not just the language barrier. They have to get used to each other's culture and thinking," Chang said.

Woo told the AP in an interview that "Red Cliff" involves the biggest scenes he's ever worked on. While "Mission: Impossible II" and "Windtalkers" had budgets exceeding US$100 million, most of that money went to the stars rather than the production itself, he said.

Likening "Red Cliff" to "Gladiator" and "Troy," Woo said the largest scenes in the Chinese movie involved as many as 2,000 actors and crew members and that the two installments include about 1,300 special effects shots.

Woo said he's wanted to make "Red Cliff" since finishing "A Better Tomorrow" but lacked the resources and technological expertise until now.

He also wants to broaden Western understanding of Chinese culture. Outside of Asia, "Red Cliff" will be released as a single, condensed installment in December.

"Although there are a few action movies, Hong Kong movies and kung fu movies that are very popular in the West and did very well at the box office, that's only one part of our culture," Woo said.

Woo's other mission is to bring Hollywood know-how to Chinese movie crews.

"I want to prove to the world through this movie that in China, we also have the ability, talent and endurance to make a Hollywood-style blockbuster," he said.

Some movie critics, however, aren't keen on Woo's latest project.

Grady Hendrix, who writes Variety's blog on Asian entertainment, said Woo is past his creative peak.

"John Woo making 'Red Cliff' is one of those things that can barely make me yawn. There are many better and more interesting projects out there right now," he said.

Tom Vick, a film curator at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., and author of "Asian Cinema," said he's wary of the glut of Chinese historical epics in recent years but hopes Woo can break new ground with "Red Cliff."

"Even his less successful films are done with panache. So I'm hoping he can find something new or interesting to do with this tired genre," Vick said.

Woo plans to make at least another Chinese film — "1949," a romance set against World War II and Chinese civil war — but says he wants to keep working in Hollywood. In the United States he is working on an American remake of the 1969 French film "The Sicilian Clan," a Western, and a movie about Chinese laborers starring Chow Yun-fat.
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 04, 2008 7:42 am    Post subject:

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