The Great Wall
DVD + Digital HD with Ultravio
DVD + Blu-ray
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Starring global superstar Matt Damon and directed by one of the most breathtaking visual stylists of our time, Zhang Yimou (Hero, House of Flying Daggers), The Great Wall tells the story of an elite force making a valiant stand for humanity on the world's most iconic structure. Jing Tian, Pedro Pascal, Willem Dafoe and Andy Lau also star in this sweeping epic.
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The Great Wall tells the story of a group of Western mercenaries, searching for a powerful substance known as black powder, in China. Soon, they get involved in protecting the Great Wall of China against an army of monsters, known as the Taotie.
Overall, there is a good balance between East and West. A Western screenplay by Max Brooks keeps things going quickly without the irritating self sacrifice and slow dialog of the recent Dragon Blade movie (Jackie Chan, Adrien Brody). Director Zhang Yimou is known for extravaganzas and sometimes the action does look acrobatic but it's not too bad. The excessive slow motion deaths and explosions that plague some Chinese movies isn't such a problem here.
This was an all-out action movie that explored the themes of greed and sacrifice, nobility and savagery. Yimou's masterful direction elevates the movie above standard action fare, giving moments of truly astounding visuals. His use of color not only adds to the visual flair, but also helps to add coherence to the movie while the editing is never confusing.
With a running time of less than 2 hours, viewers expecting in-depth characterization along the lines of "Hero" and "Curse of the Golden Flower" will be disappointed. The quiet scenes were a bit lacking, leaving the audience emotionally cold.
Nevertheless, it’s not a bad movie and certainly not ambitious enough to deserve any of the vitriol people read into the story without ever watching the movie. I was entertained but not awestruck.