Wednesday, 26 July 2017

The Great Wall

Having previously reviewed Ghost in the Shell, I thought I should continue the trend of Far Eastern stories starring very white Class A Hollywood stars with The Great Wall. There is a big difference between the two movies, though: while one is an uninvolving style over everything affair, the other is a pretty entertaining action movie.
To clarify, The Great Wall is a fantasy movie taking place at or around of the ancient Chinese wall under some sort of a very Dynasty Warriors like setting. Matt Damon is a European soldier of fortune accompanied by other Europeans on a crusade to acquire "black powder" and thus gain unthinkable wealth and the right for a first go at every brothel (I didn't make this up, the movie did). After being chased off by robbers he stumbles at night on a monster, and later makes his way to said Great Wall where he's taken captive.
As it turns out, the wall's purpose is to fend off China from the attack of this huge flock of monsters Damon's character had already encountered. Protecting China is a very colorful, numerous and impeccably organised army determined to protect the mainland (and by extension, the world entire) from these impeding monsters. How will the soldier of fortune fare with this ideology driven army? And how will the two sides deal with the dragons about to attack their dungeon?
So yes, much action follows in what turns out to be a very The Last Samurai version of House of Flying Daggers. The Great Wall is a very visually striking film, and clearly no money has been spared on accessories and such - it looks like the crew from Lord of the Rings was allowed to have another go here (though I have no idea whether these were actually the same folk at work here).
One last thing before closing off. China is represented here mostly through a young female general (Jing Tian). As much as the film seems crying for it, we never end up in a relationship between her and Damon's character; not even a kiss. Which, in my opinion, benefits affairs greatly. It also enhances the analogy between the movie's Europeans coming to exploit China for what it has and the real life situation of "our" approach to China.
Overall: Ultimately, this is not much more than a good looking action movie. But it does offer more than most, and that heavy touch of Chinese myth spicing works wonders. 3.5 out of 5 crabs.

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