Despite what Wikipedia says, the Chinese apparently built the Great Wall because of dragon-type monsters…

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Directed by Zhang Yimou (Hero and House of Flying Daggers), this movie stars Matt Damon, Jing Tian, Andy Lau, and Pedro Pascal.

Set in the Song dynasty, the movie revolves around William (Damon), a European mercenary who stumbles upon the Great Wall in search of blackpowder. In the Great Wall, he and fellow mercenary Pero Tovar (Pascal) witness a centuries-long battle between man and monsters.

One of the great things about this movie is the chemistry between Damon and Pascal. It really felt like that their characters know each other for a very long time. Pascal provided an incredible amount of humor.

As expected from the director of Hero, the action sequences were also good, especially the first half of the movie. To me, it is like watching The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies because the movie is just one big mega-fight.

Costume design is a bit of a mixed bag here. For one thing, they are visually appealing. Each troop has their own color designation, and each armor is well-crafted. On the other hand, I just can’t help thinking about how historically inaccurate the armors are. There is this one shot where they all look like Ancient Chinese Power Rangers.

And then we look at the casting choice and character development… William’s character is really just another one of those white men who can miraculously save an ethnic group. Though the director claims that it has the most number of Chinese actors in a film of such a scale, it cannot ignore the fact the the Eurpean characters have more character development, more intrigue, and conflict.

Furthermore, the story was executed very simply (or lazily…). There were no surprises because every scene that follows is exactly how you picture it. It is simply a generic monster fantasy.

Lastly, common sense seems to be thrown out! Why use gymnast women with spears when you already have cannon, gunpowder, and a revolving blade?!

The Great Wall is a generic monster movie. Despite the chemistry between its actors and some of its the action sequences, this movie is…

GREAT GOOD BAD UGLY

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