The Great Wall

 

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Zhang Yimou directs his first English-language film with mixed results.

    Great Wall, The

  

Zhang Yimou, the acclaimed director of House of Flying Daggers, brings to the screen his first English-language production in the most expensive film ever made in China. Matt Damon plays William, a European adventurer seeking a mysterious black powder in Medieval China during the Song Dynasty, along with his fellow mercenary Tovar (Pedro Pascal). But these two Europeans are soon captured by the Chinese and imprisoned within the Great Wall, which becomes their protector against an attack from a myriad of monstrous creatures, the Tao-Tie...

 

This is an enjoyable adventure, beautifully designed with terrific 3D effects that enhance the action sequences. The plot is too slight and silly, but Matt Damon (unsurprisingly) gives it much needed gravitas. Willem Dafoe as Sir Ballard – another European who came to China twenty-five years earlier, also in search of the black powder – over enunciates his dialogue as if he expects the audience to lip-read his performance. The attractive Chinese cast is led by Tian Jing as the feisty Commander Lin Mae, who, along with her troops, fights like a tiger for survival. There’s no character development and a one-dimensional screenplay, but it all looks splendid in 3D on a giant screen.

 

GEORGE SAVVIDES

 

Cast: Matt Damon, Jing Tian, Pedro Pascal, Willem Dafoe, Andy Lau, Zhang Hanyu, Pilou Asbæk.

 

Dir Zhang Yimou, Pro Thomas Tull, Charles Roven, Jon Jashni and Peter Loehr, Screenplay Carlo Bernard, Doug Miro and Tony Gilroy, from a story by Max Brooks, Edward Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz, Ph Stuart Dryburgh and Zhao Xiaoding, Pro Des John Myhre, Ed Craig Wood, Music Ramin Djawadi, Costumes Mayes C. Rubeo.

 

Legendary East/Le Vision Pictures/Atlas Entertainment/China Film Group-Universal Pictures.

103 mins. China/USA. 2016. Rel: 17 February 2017. Cert. 12A.