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Hollywood goes to China

Saturday, February 04, 2017

The Great Wall
Rating: Zhang Yimou
Cast: Matt Damon, Pedro Pascal, Jing Tian and others.
Rating: * *

The much respected Chinese director Zhang Yimou is given a large budget and a chance to make a Chinese-Hollywood film and he comes up with a story, faux-epic 'The Great Wall'.

There may have been a 'make China look good' agenda hidden in there - in the period film, the Chinese are portrayed as smart and ahead of the West in matters of technology and warfare.

Reportedly, the most expensive film made in China, 'The Great Wall' has fancy visual effects and a skinny plot. Foreign mercenaries William Garin (Matt Damon) and Pero Tovar (Game of Thrones’ Pedro Pascal) are in the wilds of China looking for the "black powder" (gunpowder). Most of their group perishes by the time they come across the Great Wall.

They are imprisoned by the Nameless Order, who are preparing for an attack by the Taotei - scary green reptilian critters that surface every sixty years to feed on humans. The Chinese army is well prepared and prettily color coordinated, but the monsters are no match for two white men expert at archery. Pretty Commander Lin (Jing Tian) is most impressed - to keep subtitles at a minimum, she has learnt to speak English from a resident (Willem Dafoe), who hung around for twenty-five years waiting for a chance to escape with the precious black powder.

The Taotei attack, kill, destroy and are fought back - little else happens. There are a few stunning shots like graceful female soldiers leaping through the air, or hundreds of lanterns being released into the sky at a funeral, but the film and the actors look jaded.

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