Tuesday, January 24, 2017



From IMDB:

When a mercenary warrior (Matt Damon) is imprisoned within the Great Wall, he discovers the mystery behind one of the greatest wonders of the world. As wave after wave of marauding beasts besieges the massive structure, his quest for fortune turns into a journey toward heroism as he joins a huge army of elite warriors to confront the unimaginable and seemingly unstoppable force. 

The Great Wall (2016) on IMDb

Reviews 56 user | 41 critic

From Rotten Tomatoes:

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), Legendary's The Great Wall tells the story of an elite force making a valiant stand for humanity on the world's most iconic structure. The first English-language production for Yimou is the largest film ever shot entirely in China. The Great Wall also stars Jing Tian, Pedro Pascal, Willem Dafoe and Andy Lau.

Rating: PG-13 (for sequences of fantasy action violence)
Directed By: Yimou Zhang
In Theaters: Feb 17, 2017 Wide
Runtime: 104 minutes

Average Rating: 5.8/10
Reviews Counted: 9
Fresh: 4
Rotten: 5

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

WANT TO SEE 94% want to see
User Ratings: 8,672

Meet Pero and William. They've been riding across the desert for months only to end up at a wall. ©Universal Pictures

A movie that you wouldn't expect to see someone like Matt Damon in...

The Great Wall. From the very beginning of the film, much like that xXx: Return of Xander Cage movie, you know who is behind this film, who's paying for it. But unlike that movie, this movie actually has an impressive team behind it, in a way. Written by Max Brooks who wrote the book World War Z which was turned into a movie in 2013, Edward Zwick who produced movies like Legends of the Fall (1994) and The Last Samurai (2003) and directed movies like Glory (1989) and Blood Diamond (2006), and Marshall Herskovitz who also worked on the same films. It's directed by the acclaimed Zhang Yimou who directed The Flowers of War (2011), House of Flying Daggers (2004), Hero (2002) andRaise the Red Lantern (1991). So you're expecting something pretty amazing, right? Well, compared to xXx, yes you are. 

The man in black is the commander the others are the generals. The commander doesn't last long and guess which of the generals he chooses to take over his place. ©Universal Pictures

So if you've seen the trailer you know that this movie is about or takes place in China and more specifically the Great Wall of China. You also know that something monstrous is attacking said great wall and for whatever reason, a white man and his Spanish friend end up at said portion of the very long wall where the monsters are attacking. The white man named William Garin played by Matt Damon then decides to volunteer himself to help the Chinese army fight the attackers. His travel buddy Pero Tovar (Pedro Pascal) though has different ideas, he wants to do what they came to do which is look for something that the west has heard rumours of and wants very badly. He is aided by a man named Ballard (Willem Dafoe) who has been at the wall for 25 years for learning the existence of the thing that William and Pero have come looking for. 

As the film progresses you see William go through a change of heart and career, annoy his buddy Pero, gain the trust of Commander Lin Mei (Tian Jing) and her generals as well as Strategist Wang (Andy Lau), do amazing things with a bow and arrow and kill monsters whose origins and behaviour are pretty ridiculous. 

The movie says it takes place at the Great Wall but most of the time you're at this one section only. ©Universal Pictures

On to the likes.

  • The story. It isn't that bad actually. It isn't original for sure but it isn't completely horrible, full of plotholes or peppered with bad dialogue. It's simple and straight forward.
  • The cast. Overall not bad. If you like Matt Damon in the Bourne series you'll probably enjoy him here too. Same goes for Pedro Pascal whom most will remember as the dude that gets his eyes gouged out and then his head crushed in the Game of Thrones series. And of course Willem Dafoe, this is a minor role for him for sure but that doesn't mean he doesn't do a good job. And then there's the Asian cast of whom you'll have the pleasure of meeting two of them for most of the movie, Commander Lin Mei played by Tian Jing, an orphan girl who rises up the ranks and one day due to an unfortunate circumstance is given control of the Nameless Army and Strategist Wang played by Andy Lau, a kind of intelligence officer cum scientist for the Nameless Army. If you're a fan of Asian Cinema especially those coming out of Hong Kong then you know who Andy Lau is. Tian Jing on the other hand is a relatively new actress but she's shared the screen with Jackie Chan in Police Story: Lockdown (2013) and with Chow Yun-Fat in The Man from Macau (2014) and also Donnie Yen in Special ID (2013). 
  • What you see on the screen. That's pretty good too. The costumes are colourful and elaborate. The sets look impressive and quite real. The effects look good. The army makes quite an impression. The action scenes were quite good too.
And this thing here is what the Great Wall was made to keep out. Yes, that's his eyes near his shoulder. But these are the soldiers, wait till you meet the queen and her armoured bodyguards. ©Universal Pictures

The not so likes.
  • Well as mentioned before the story is not at all original maybe the only original thing is how the monsters, the Tao Tei came to be is and of course how they look. 
  • Which brings me to the second thing that was a little ridiculous or maybe really ridiculous, the Tao Tei's origins and what the Chinese empire knows about them. It just sounds ridiculous and this is a ridiculous movie.
  • Which brings me to another thing about the Tao Tei. They don't look horrible but seeing as how everything else around looks so good the Tao Tei sort of looks not as good. You get what I mean? Now as perfect as the other visual effects. 
This happens in the final battle. I'll let you figure out what happens. Or go watch the movie. ©Universal Pictures

Overall The Great Wall is a decent no-brainer action movie set in a familiar historical location with an unusual twist. The story has its good moments but it also has its silly ones too. If you know of Zhang Yimou and the movies he's done don't expect this one to be like those others, there are elements from them but overall this is closer to the Hollywood summer blockbusters than any of his elaborate period dramas or action films. Go and watch this with that mindset and you'll be okay. Go expecting something like House of the Flying Dagger or any of Matt Damon's other films and you may be a little disappointed. This is big-budget, colourful-action eye-candy more than anything else. I'm going to give this movie a decent 3 out of 5. 

Have a look at the trailer below. 


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