[Another guest post by Ray Hecht, who reviewed this movie on his website on January 5. The movie has already been released in China where Ray resides but will not be released in the US until February. The following review is abridged.]
The Great Wall was recently released in China with much hype. Directed by the critically acclaimed Zhang Yimou ( Raise the Red Lantern), and starring Matt Damon, it is the first truly American and Chinese coproduction.
Unfortunately, the film has already been poorly received and critically panned in China. However, it can still make for an enjoyable romp.
The Great Wall succeeds at being an exciting fantasy adventure about Western explorers fighting monsters in an ancient Chinese setting. The story opens with horse-riding mercenaries seeking mysterious explosive black powder. Eventually they make it to the Great Wall, where they meet Damon’s love interest Commander Lin (played by Jing Tian).
Matt Damon’s costar, Pedro Pascal (Game of Thrones), is excellent and usually outshines Damon in scenes they share. The pair of warriors have good chemistry as buddy action films, although with a somewhat predictable character arc.
The plot moves quickly. Monsters called Taotie are hordes of demons in epic battles. The carefully honed craft of Chinese wushu-style film proves to be more engaging than the indulgences of high-end Hollywood CGI war in intricate face-to-face combat. The moral lessons of trust and loyalty are heavy handed. The original story of the monsters and color-coded uniforms for the Chinese army seem reminiscent of the Power Rangers TV show targeted for children. The climatic final battle in the capital city does give the viewer some satisfactory drama, but overall The Great Wall is not meant to be taken seriously.
This reviewer recommends having modest expectations and enjoy it for what it is: A fun, Hollywood fantasy movie which just happens to take place in China.
The Great Wall will be released in America on February 17th.