Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The Great Wall 長城

Released Year: 2016
Directed by 张艺谋 Zhang Yi Mou 

Casted by:
Matt Damon as William Garin
景甜 Jing Tian as 林梅 Commander Lin Mae
Pedro Pascal as Pero Tovar
刘德华 Andy Lau as 王军师 Strategist Wang
Willem Dafoe as Ballard
鹿晗 Lu Han as 彭勇 Peng Yong
张涵予 Zhang Hanyu as 邵殿帅 Commander Shao
彭于晏 Eddie Peng as 吴将军 Commander Wu
林更新 Lin Gengxin as 陈将军 Commander Chen
黄轩 Huang Xuan as 邓将军 Commander Teng
During the Song dynasty, a few miles north of the Great Wall, William, Tovar, and three other survivors from a European mercenary group searching for black powder are pursued by Khitan bandits. Upon escaping they seek refuge in a cave, but are attacked by a shadowy monster, leaving only William and Tovar alive, the former having slashed off the monster's hand. The next day, they stumble upon the Great Wall and are taken prisoner by Chinese soldiers, who are led by General Shao, General Lin, and Strategist Wang. The officers have been preparing for a monster invasion which happens once every sixty years. However, they are frightened upon seeing the monster's hand, identified as a member of the Taotie species, as they believed the invasion was still weeks away. Suddenly, a wave of monsters attack the Great Wall, and the soldiers respond with archery, ballistas, and catapaults which throw burning rocks. Lin leads a company of female soldiers who jump off the Wall and are pulled back with elastic cords. The monsters are more intelligent and numerous than the soldiers' expectations, but are repelled with William and Tovar's assistance, which earns the soldiers' respect. Later, William and Tovar meet Sir Ballard, a European who, like them, had ventured east twenty-two years ago in search of black powder, which might be sold for a fortune back in Europe. However, Ballard was also taken prisoner, and has been serving as an English and Latin teacher. The three men discuss plans to steal black powder from the store-room and flee while the soldiers are occupied by battle.

During the night, two monsters manage to climb the Great Wall and kill a guard. Shao and Lin lead a platoon to investigate, but they are ambushed and Shao is killed, leaving Lin in charge. Around this time, an envoy from the capital, Bianliang, arrives with an ancient scroll, which suggests that the monsters are pacified by magnets. To test this theory, William suggests that Lin should capture a monster alive using harpoons laced with sedatives, and delays his escape plans to help. At the next battle, several monsters are ensnared, and William bravely slides down a chain to ensure that an ensnared monster is not freed by other monsters. Tovar delays his escape to assist William, to Ballard's disappointment. The soldiers resist the monsters by fighting vertically along the Wall while tied to a chain, and by using spinning mechanical blades. As the monsters are too numerous, Lin resorts to using black powder rockets, whose existence had been a secret. After the battle, the captured monster is taken to the capital by the envoy. A short while later, a hole is discovered in the base of the Great Wall, which the monsters have used as a bypass, a reflection of their cleverness. While Lin investigates, Tovar and Ballard try to escape, and knock William unconscious for resisting. Some distance away, Ballard abandons Tovar, stealing his horse, but is captured by the Khitans, who accidentally ignite a bomb killing themselves and Ballard. Tovar reclaims the horses, but is captured by Chinese riders.

Knowing that the monsters are nearing the capital, Lin orders the use of an unstable technology, namely hot-air balloons, to reach the capital more quickly. Most of the balloons catch fire and the soldiers fall to their deaths. William boards the last balloon with Wang, following Lin to the capital, where they find most of the city already ruined. However, they think of a plan to kill the queen monster by tying explosives to the captured monster from earlier, and giving the monster meat to deliver to the queen. The three people climb a tower to shoot a black powder rocket to detonate the explosives, during which Wang is killed. Two rockets fail, but the third succeeds, after William throws a magnetic stone at the queen right before the rocket hits. In the aftermath, Lin is promoted to regional marshal, and William forgoes a reward in exchange for freeing Tovar. The two are allowed to return to Europe and a contingent of cavalry are sent to protect them.
 L² Scored: 10/10

L² Comment:
This is the first english-language movie that is directed by Zhang Yi Mou in his 33 years of being a director. He has won a lot of awards in Asian but can he won one from the Western country by this movie, let's see... Using the same concept of his 2002 movie HERO, he used sharp colors to differentiate the team of army in this movie.I love the storyline of the movie, very exciting and new while the way of defensing The Great Wall are fascinating as well. Matt Damon still look superb, being the few only western actor, he managed to shine together with the Asian actor but not overly outcast-ed his fellow actors in the same film, which i think is quite important as well... Of course this movie also let a lot of the Asian actors & actresses has the chance to show their face in Hollywood, good work Zhang Yi Mou :)

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