‘Red Cliff’ ready for its closeup

John Woo epic to bow in Asia this week

The arduous task of bringing Asia’s biggest-ever pic, “Red Cliff,” to the bigscreen has been a battle worthy of the violent and chaotic time in which the movie is set.

Pic, adapted from China’s classic novel “Romance of the Three Kingdoms,” is over four hours long. For Asian territories, the movie is being split into two parts, with the first to be released on Thursday in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Korea.

In Malaysia, it bows on July 17; Japan is aiming for November.

Auds outside Asia will get a single movie, expected to clock in at 2½ hours, coinciding with the release of the second part in Asia in January.

Red Cliff” is a co-production of China Film Group, South Korea’s Showbox Entertainment, Taiwan’s CMC Entertainment group and Japan’s Avex Entertainment.

Director John Woo is hoping the film will mark his glorious return home to Asia after decades in Hollywood. But backers of the $80 million project are taking no chances, marking the launch with a grueling promo push to win hearts and minds across the continent.

The story is set in the final days of the Han Dynasty, in the year 208, covering the war that established the Three Kingdoms period, when China had three rulers.

Bad weather, on-set tragedy with the death of a stuntman and cast walkouts all combined to put a pall over the pic’s production. But happier times seem to be ahead. Post is finally wrapping on the second half of the Asian version of the project.

The talent — stars Tony Leung, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Zhang Fengyi, Chang Chen and Lin Chiling, as well as Woo and producer Terence Chang — was wheeled out in Asian capitals in a bid to ensure that the film captures the Asian imagination to the extent it must to secure success across Asia.

“I have wanted to make this film for almost 20 years. James Wong Jim suggested I make a film about the war in 1986, but due to funding problems, it couldn’t be done. After Wong’s death, I felt a strong urge to make it happen,” Woo told a news conference in Hong Kong. Reassuringly, he added that the film’s second half was nearly ready, except for CGI details.

Movie on tour

The first of a busy run of charity premieres took place in Korea on June 26, with the second in Hong Kong on June 30. After that, the troupe headed into mainland China, with Beijing seeing preems on two successive nights.

The next stop was the earthquake zone on Thursday, where the movie screened at Chengdu’s Wu Hou shrine. The complex, built in 223 A.D., includes memorial halls and burial sites of many of the characters featured in the film.

The decision to take “Red Cliff” to Sichuan won kudos for the production because it will help give a lift to the survivors of the May 12 quake, which left upwards of 90,000 dead or missing.

In a sign that years out of China have not dulled his understanding of the sensibilities of the local market, Woo invited 100 doctors, nurses, soldiers, volunteers and journalists who experienced the quake and helped with the rescue and relief work or reported about them to attend the ceremony, and paraded some of them up the red carpet.

“Red Cliff” spent Friday in Shanghai, followed by Guangzhou on Sunday and Shanzhen today. Then it is the turn of Taipei (Tuesday and Wednesday) and Singapore (Thursday), finishing off in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur on Friday.

Asian auds are keen to welcome back local son Woo, who left Hong Kong to make his name in Hollywood with “Face/Off” and “Mission: Impossible II.”

Tony Leung initially dropped out of the picture, to be replaced by Takeshi Kaneshiro. Soon thereafter, Woo’s long-time ally Chow Yun-fat ankled. Then two days later Leung was back in the line-up, this time in the lead, replacing Chow.

More Film

  • Disney Movies

    Why Audiences Are Only Going to Disney Movies

    Julie Bikhman of Manhattan might buy the tickets, but when it comes to deciding what movie to see, her three young children are the ones calling the shots. “We pick them,” her 11-year-old daughter Annie declares before heading into a screening of Disney’s live-action “The Lion King.” “If it’s a Marvel movie, we know it’s [...]

  • Rob Schneider'The Week Of' film premiere,

    Rob Schneider Running for SAG-AFTRA Board, Supporting Matthew Modine

    Rob Schneider is running for a SAG-AFTRA national board seat as a member of presidential candidate Matthew Modine’s progressive Membership First slate and as a representative of the union’s San Francisco branch. Schneider is a former cast member on “Saturday Night Live” with movie credits on “Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo,” “The Hot Chick,” “The Benchwarmers,” [...]

  • The Lion King

    'Lion King' VFX Supervisor Rob Legato to Keynote at the 2019 View Conference

    Rob Legato, visual effects supervisor of “The Lion King,” “The Addams Family” co-director Conrad Vernon and Baobab Studios’ co-founder and chief creative officer Eric Darnell, director of the VR studio’s Emmy- and Annie-winning VR short “Crow: The Legend,” are rounding out the keynote speakers at this fall’s 20th edition of the View Conference in Turin, [...]

  • A woman prays at a makeshift

    Japan Expresses Its Grief Over Deadly Kyoto Animation Arson Attack

    Fellow animators and others in the Japanese entertainment industry have expressed their sorrow and solidarity with Kyoto Animation, the well-respected anime studio that suffered a horrific arson attack and the deaths of dozens of staffers. “We are all fellows in the same boat. If we continue to create without being afraid, we will find solace [...]

  • For Lineup Story

    Billie Piper's Directorial Debut, 'Rare Beasts,' to Bow in Venice Critics' Week

    “Rare Beasts,” the directorial debut of British stage and screen actress Billie Piper (“Doctor Who,” “Penny Dreadful,” “Collateral”) is set to premiere at the Venice Film Festival’s Critics’ Week, which has unveiled its lineup of nine first works, four of them from female filmmakers. Produced by Vaughan Sivell of Western Edge Pictures in association with [...]

  • 'Mientras dure la guerra' -Rodaje Modmedia-

    Alejandro Amenabar, Ricardo Darin, Paco Cabezas Bound for San Sebastian

    MADRID  –  Alejandro Amenábar, Ricardo Darín and Paco Cabezas, director of episodes from “Peaky Blinders” and “American Gods,” look set to join Penelope Cruz, already confirmed as a Donostia Award winner, at this year’s 67th San Sebastian Intl. Film Festival. The biggest movie event in the Spanish-speaking world, this year’s San Sebastian runs Sept.20-28. Amenábar’s [...]

  • Pinewood Studios James Bond

    Netflix's Shepperton Studios Deal Is Stretching the U.K.'s Production Limits

    Netflix’s huge new hub at Shepperton Studios outside London is a further fillip for Britain’s booming production sector. Amid jitters over Brexit and its effects on the economy, the streaming giant’s commitment is a vote of confidence in the U.K. entertainment industry and a continuing source of local jobs. But the decision by Netflix to [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content