The Great Wall is the best Chinese movie I’ve seen to date.
I’ve watched Chinese films on TV since I was a kid but this one definitely takes the cake. I thought this was an entirely Hollywood production and the story was just set in China. But I was mildly surprised when I saw who directed it; Zhang Yimou.
You can’t mistake the nationality of that name.
Anyway, the film says that the Great Wall of China was meant to keep things out, some of them known, some of them legend.
Is it worth knowing what this wonder of the world was meant to keep out? Or should we just ignore all media related to a wall? Read the JeepneyPsy review to find out!
A group of mercenaries is in search of a mysterious new weapon that can kill a dozen men at once. On their way, they get chased by a group of bandits so they were forced to take refuge in a cave. Unfortunately, inside this cave is another mystery that happens to drag people away never to be heard from again.
William Garin (Matt Damon) and Pero Tovar (Pedro Pascal) were the only ones left, but keeping calm and with senses on full alert, they were able to injure the monster and survive another day. A monstrous hand became their spoil, which they took to be examined by whoever knows what it is.
Not long after, they found themselves upon The Great Wall where they are taken in as prisoners (and later as soldiers) by an army called The Nameless Order. There is an upcoming war and they are on the defensive.
This is no ordinary war, for it may decide the fate of humanity.
William was an absolute kickass in The Great Wall. Being the veteran of many a war, he was a big asset to the Nameless Order in their battle against the mysterious beasts. Matt Damon who plays the character is already known for action flicks specifically the Bourne series, but this is the first time I’ve seen him in a fantasy movie. He had a good performance although I feel that the character is a bit stale overall.
Pedro Pascal, who I last saw in Narcos, played as Tovar who is the supporting character to William. He doesn’t care about the war and its consequences; all he wants is the weapon and doesn’t care for glory. He is the unlikely friend. The thick accent is there, but his acting was good during the times he was on-screen.
For the Chinese cast, the only one that interested me was the only female general, Commander Lin Mei played by Tian Jing. She was actually the only person of interest among the 5 generals. Her acting was stiff and quite limited, but I guess it would be just right since her character is a military official.
The enemy, called the Tao Tei, are beast-like creatures that behave like a swarm. They number in the tens of thousands and are commanded by the “Queen” via signals. They only have physical attacks so they have to get close to their prey, and their intention is to bring back food to their Queen so they can increase their numbers.
As for the Nameless Order, they have much less in terms of manpower, but what they lack in headcount they make up for with artillery. Their main advantage is the wall, and from there they rain their arrows, shoot flaming boulders, and more.
Awesome War Scenes
War scenes are very fun to watch. Instead of really focusing on individual movement, you get to see strategy and intellect at play. It is not the strong who wins, but the one who is prepared.
The first siege starts with the establishment of the size of both armies. The Tao Tei easily outnumber the Nameless Order, and their charge is almost disheartening to see from a distance. Once they are in range, they are easily taken down by the handheld and mechanical weapons.
The mysterious beasts have just one strategy; to charge and overwhelm. The humans are able to fight back but some of the beasts were still able to breach their defense. That’s when the camera zoomed in into the isolated action between William, Tovar, and the lone Tao Tei. The beast was menacing, but human skill prevailed.
There were only 3 war scenes in total, each one with an entirely different feel and each one absolutely satisfying to watch.
A Few Holes (Spoilers)
The movie was set during the Song Dynasty, which is around 1200A.D. The Tao Tei arrived 2000 years ago and attack every 60 years. This means they have already tried to breach The Great Wall 33 times. According to one of the scholars in the film, they are intelligent creatures and evolve every time they attack. But from what I saw, they’re not really that smart!
There are a total of four types of Tao Tei from what I observed. The scout (the one Matt Damon killed in the cave), the common Tao Tei, the Shield-type, and the Queen. In 33 defeats, I think these creatures would have evolved into more types of units like ranged attackers or ones that can fly. But for plot convenience, I guess, they were that way.
Also, the beasts didn’t think of going through multiple points of the wall instead of focusing on a single area. But hey, they’re just beasts.
The first top general of the human army died too easily in my opinion.
Also, in the film, the Tao Tei carved a hole through the wall to make it to the city. How were they not able to hear something like digging through rock? And also, how were these beasts able to fit tens of thousands of units in a hole that’s just big enough for 3 Tao Tei at once without the army noticing?
They could have used a single huge chunk of black powder to obliterate the Queen, but they didn’t.
The generals were not able to show off their individual skills.
Not really a plot hole, but I think the ending of the movie is a little… meh.
The Great Wall combines the organized chaos of Chinese war movies and Hollywood-level production to make a really good fantasy film. The war scenes are very solid and are fun to watch, and will surely make your heart skip a beat a few times. The story is not very deep, but you should really be watching this film for the action. Don’t scrutinize the plot too much and you’ll surely enjoy it.
I’m giving it a score of 7 for the entertainment value and the bigatin cast. It’s a good film to enjoy with friends so grab a buddy and watch it!
Have you already watched The Great Wall? Why don’t we talk about it in the comments below?
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