China goes Hollywood in 'The Great Wall'

Posted February 19, 2017

Direction by Yimou Zhang who brought House of the Flying Daggers to the screen uses numerous ploys that made that film exciting.

Actor Pedro Pascal, director Zhang Yimou, and actors Jing Tian and Matt Damon attend the premiere of Universal Pictures" "The Great Wall' at TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX on February 15, 2017 in Hollywood, California.

Say what you will about Matt Damon's controversial new film The Great Wall, but the epic fantasy flick is absolutely loaded with both action and intrigue. Director Zhang Yimou said "For me personally it's not the biggest challenge... as a director what you really need to concentrate on is: make sure the story is good, make sure the characters are interesting and unique, and find something special to say in the movie". This is what happens when a studio tries to tell an accomplished filmmaker how to make a movie with an worldwide star and puts 6 people who have no experience with a movie like this in the writer's room.

The Great Wall is rated 14A.

So, William and Pero are taken captive by the Nameless Order and ultimately wind up fighting alongside the Chinese soldiers once the Taotie launch their attack. However, you could probably write how this one turns out yourself. Additionally, the movie is very well filmed with some truly attractive shots that blend light and color extremely well. The Great Wall arrives in the midst of a spate of Hollywood efforts that have blithely appropriated Asian culture and identity while excluding actual Asian people - Doctor Strange, the forthcoming Ghost in the Shell, and Netflix's Iron Fist series, not to mention 2015's whitewashed Aloha.

As with the casting, this didn't happen because "The Great Wall" stinted on writing talent. An old emperor was too greedy, so the gods sent the Tao Tei to China to eat people until the people acknowledge that greed is a bad thing.

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Add to that the fact that "The Great Wall's" dialogue, in a bow to the realities of the global marketplace, is mostly in English and you get negligible emotional connection here, a situation that hampers Damon and Willem Dafoe, who plays a random European skulking around the fortress, most of all.

Damon is a studio calculation, to be sure, an worldwide star to anchor a blockbuster film to get it on as many screens as possible around the world, and the movie never convinces you otherwise. After slaying the beast, William and Tovar are brought to The Nameless Order, a highly-trained military force of the Song Dynasty, which stands atop The Great Wall, guarding the realm from the Taoties, a swarm of monstrous hive-minded beasts, all led by a highly intelligent queen. The attacks by the Tao Tei are intense and chaotic and fun to watch.

ACTION AND ADVENTURE: The Great Wall can also be classified as a "monster war movie". She's part of an acrobatic group of warriors who bungee jump off the wall to spear the Taotie.

What is Matt Damon doing in a China-based blockbuster about the country's most iconic work of architecture?

"I was the main western character in the movie and it got a very big release and did well in China", he recalled. At one point William single-handedly saves everyone when monsters breach the wall, then gets a standing ovation when he enters the meal hall.