After breaking box-office records with the 2008 release of Red Cliff
, John Woo concludes his epic Three Kingdoms
adaptation with Red Cliff 2
. Tony Leung Chiu Wai (Infernal Affairs
) and Kaneshiro Takeshi (Perhaps Love
) return as Zhou Yu and Zhuge Liang, and Zhang Feng Yi (Farewell, My Concubine
) acts up a storm as the power-hungry Cao Cao. Chang Chen (The Go Master
), Vicki Zhao (Painted Skin
), Hu Jun (Infernal Affairs 2
) and Nakamura Shido (Fearless
) lend support, with Taiwanese model Lin Chi Ling taking on an expanded role as the beautiful Xiao Qiao, and Mainland actor Tong Da Wei joining the cast as one of Cao Cao's soldiers.
Despite the all-star cast, the action sequences are the star of this sequel. Red Cliff 2 climaxes with a riveting and stunningly realized fire attack at the water port of Red Cliff, as Zhao Yu leads the aligned Wu and Shu forces in a desperate attempt to repel Cao Cao's forces. In between the bloodletting and pyrotechnics, John Woo weaves in his trademark themes of brotherhood and honor, finding as much space in the film for emotion and character as he does for explosions and swordplay. A satisfying and vastly entertaining counterpart to the first film, Red Cliff 2 is already one of 2009's Chinese cinema highlights.
Picking up where the first film left off, Red Cliff 2 finds Wu princess Sun Shang Xiang (Vicki Zhao) behind enemy lines. As she plays spy for Shu strategist Zhuge Liang (Kaneshiro Takeshi), Sun Shang Xiang strikes up an inadvertent friendship with an unknowing enemy (Tong Da Wei). Beset by typhoid, Liu Bei (You Yong) and the Shu forces retreat, leaving only Zhuge Liang to aid the remaining forces of Wu. Zhuge Liang and Zhou Yu (Tony Leung Chiu Wai) resort to subterfuge and cunning mindgames, seeking any advantage against the increasingly overconfident Cao Cao (Zhang Feng Yi). However, their forces are still vastly outnumbered by Cao Cao's, and with the battle fast approaching, victory seems far from assured. In the end, their only hope may by an unexpected plan launched by Zhou Yu's wife, the beautiful Xiao Qiao (Lin Chi Ling), as well as a surprising change in the wind...