I just watched John Woo's uncut, five-hour Red Cliff (billed as the "original international version") on Blu-Ray, and I'm declaring it a masterpiece. It's the kind of rousing epic that easily compares with Ben-Hur, Gladiator and Braveheart, and even surpasses them. It's huge and spectacular and dazzling, but still grounded in human characters and emotions. Best of all, it's a personal work from a filmmaker with specific themes and obsessions, and he manages to fit his own unique vision into this sweeping scope.

It was the highest grossing movie in Chinese history, and yet it hasn't even cracked three-quarters of a million dollars in ticket sales here in the United States. (For every one person that saw Red Cliff, more than 1000 people saw Avatar.) The explanation for this is simple; the United States received an edited version of the film that ran less than 2-1/2 hours. It only makes sense that as soon as this information came out, no one wanted to buy a ticket or invest any time in half a movie. Since the film didn't make any money, it never broke out of its limited release pattern and it never opened anywhere but in the big cities.
categories Cinematical