Those unfamiliar with ancient Chinese history may be unclear on the whys and wherefores of the legendary third-century-CE campaign by General Cao Cao’s Northern imperial forces against Southern warlords Liu Bei, Sun Quan, and Zhou Yu (played by Hong Kong superstar Tony Leung Chiu Wai) — but that’s no reason we can’t enjoy the spirited swordplay by director John Woo and his cast of thousands. It’s almost literally one long battle scene, broken up by intrigue and espionage and culminating in an epic naval engagement at the title locale with flaming ships and arrows by the millions. Billed as the most expensive movie ever produced in Asia, this Chinese production showcases the country’s economic might as much as it does the storytelling powers of filmmaker Woo. Screenplay by Woo and three other writers. Costarring Zhang Fengyi, Chang Chen, You Yong, and Chiling Lin (148 min.).
Director: John Woo
Writer: John Woo and Khan Chan
Producer: Terence Chang, Sanping Han and John Woo
Cast: Tony Leung, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Zhang Fengyi and Chang Chen