Timing is everything. And I don’t think that Yimou Zhang, director of The Great Wall, intended for his alternative fantasy epic to tie in at all to American Politics.
But here we are, soooo.
The Great Wall has nothing to do with America. Just an American stars in it, because the Chinese director wanted him. And again, it is an alternative universe, so it isn’t taking place in Modern current China. What I am really getting at is there are people angry about a white guy starring in a Chinese setting film. Well, the director is Chinese. And he is telling a story he wants to tell. And they are playing Europeans who end up in China. So there is no reason to cry afoul. Unless the movie is terrible.
Then? Then we can cry afoul together.
Boom, racism over.
Set somewhere before now and sometime after, I don’t know, the year 1,000, we are introduced to a few white Europeans. William (Matt Damon) and Tovar (Pedro Pascal), two mercenaries, working their way to China in hopes of acquiring some of this black powder they have heard about, a destructive weapon and powerful force. They are the only two remaining members of their group after a few set backs. And hey, they get attacked by some big green creature they have never seen before too.
While running from some locals, they find themselves at a wall. A GREAT WALL! With thousands upon thousands of Chinese soldiers. Now they find themselves prisoners and in a war they had no idea even existed.
But good news, there is another white guy! Ballard (Willem Dafoe), a monk looking guy, who came here decades ago also in search of the black powder, but was unable to leave based on what he learned. And he can fill them in on the stories. There is also a female general here, in wonderful blue armor, General Lin (Tian Jing), who helps fill in our story.
The Chinese are being attacked by the Tao Tie, a large swarm of monsters. Every sixty years they attack, evolving and learning tactics, in order to get through to the other side. There is a Queen that controls them all, with every beast working for her in order to feed her. If she eats enough, she will be able to create an army to take over the world, so they have to prevent her from getting to their capital. Easy enough!
But can two extra soldiers really help? Sure, if they have some new ideas and have fought in many wars before this. Like mercenaries. Hooray!
Also featuring Andy Lau, Hanyu Zhang, Kenny Lin, Eddie Peng, Xuan Huang, and Lu Han.
We straight up got the Chinese Power Rangers leading this army.
Th Great Wall is a weird movie. Bizarre, really. It is a film that stays true to its roots and gives us a unique story.
When I say it stays true to its roots, I mean that it definitely feels like a Chinese movie. It fits the directors style. It is not overly Hollywoodized despite the Western cast members and writers (of which there was six)! The dialogue is shit, some build up scenes are rushed, but most of the focus is on the action, the mythology, and the colors.
The colors Duke! The colors! I loved that the outfits were stylish and seemingly useful. Each faction of the army with specialized weapon styles and tasks had a colorful cloak and armor to tell them apart to help with formations and look spectacular on the screen. I am especially impressed with the Crane Corps, all female fighters wearing blue. Their speciality was exciting, and it reminded me fondly of a Final Fantasy class system.
The ending was unfortunately a bit rushed. Moving the climax of the film to a new location put a damper on it for me. The CGI felt a bit weaker then too, with a lot of strange character actions.
Most of the characters were pretty two dimensional. But the film is weird. And it is pretty. So it has its uses.
2 out of 4.