Movie Review: The Great Wall
I have to remind myself not to laugh.
You see, when I watched some early footage of The Great Wall, I couldn't help cracking up after a serious scene ended, much to my embarrassment.
But that scene was so preposterous that it was hard to contain myself.
So when I finally watched the film in its entirety, I was heartened to see that I wasn't the one in the cinema hall chuckling.
That's my main beef with The Great Wall.
It isn't about all that whitewashing issue.
As much as both Damon and Zhang defended the film against the whitewashing accusations, it is Damon's William who saves the day.
What do you say about a story that has a Caucasian helping an army that has been preparing for battle for 60 years, but couldn't come up with a solution to defeat their enemies?
My problem with The Great Wall is that it takes itself so seriously that it becomes hilarious.
There are moments when the dialogue between William and Pero (Game Of Thrones' Pedro Pascal) sounds like what you would get from a DVD commentary.
Do we need the actors to explain what's happening in a scene?
My other complaint is that there's no originality in the action sequences.
The key moments are rip-offs of The Lord Of The Rings trilogy and even some parts of World War Z. Don't get me started on how the monsters look like Jurassic Park rejects.
Sure, there are Zhang's artistic touches, such as the vivid colours, intricate production design and vast sets, but somehow it felt like Zhang had sold out to Hollywood.
This is such a letdown considering Zhang has given us memorable moments in his earlier actioners like Hero and House Of Flying Daggers.
That said, The Great Wall is a real spectacle. It is heartening that Chinese cinema has advanced much in terms of technology.
Zhang also made the perfect casting choice to have Damon carry the emotional weight.
His reluctant hero learns vital lessons of self-sacrifice, honour and trust from his Chinese counterparts.
A lesser A-lister would not have provided the gravitas like Damon did.
STARRING: Matt Damon, Andy Lau, Jing Tian, Pedro Pascal, Willem Dafoe, Eddie Peng, Lu Han
DIRECTOR: Zhang Yimou
THE SKINNY: According to Chinese legends, the Great Wall was built to defend the country from invading man-eating monsters. Damon plays mercenary-turned-reluctant hero, as he helps the Chinese army led by General Lin Mei (Jing) and Strategist Wang (Lau) defeat the bloodthirsty creatures.