I’ve never written a review for a movie before. However, I think this movie will be a great first for me. No need for me to write a summary about it, you can find one on Wikipedia. So, let’s start with the review.
Even before the movie came out, there were already many people who criticized it for ‘whitewashing’. A white hero saving China. I watched the trailer before going to watch the movie. After I watched the trailer, I thought they were right. The trailer focused mainly on Matt Damon (not that I’m complaining. I love him very much especially his skits with Jimmy Kimmel), but this movie was supposed to be a Chinese movie. So, I think they could’ve showed a bit more about the Chinese people in it.
Although with all the criticizing going on, I was very excited when I went to watch the movie. The beginning was so great. I liked it so much. The first battle when they fought the Taoties. The visual was very well done and the fighting really showed the strength of the army. I felt so patriotic at that moment. However, after that battle, the movie went downhill.
One of the things that bothered me very much was the death of the general. It didn’t make any sense (at least to me). He saw the Taotie who came from behind and anticipated it. Commander Lin also anticipated it. I don’t understand why she didn’t dodge and needed the general to save her. I can only conclude that the director wanted him death so the lady could take the lead; since, a man can’t have any emotional/romantic connection with Matt.
As for the whitewashing, I don’t think it was THAT whitewashed. There were only three non-Asian people in the whole movie, but it followed the same routine as old movies. White guy became the hero and got the beauty. Although in this movie, it was downplayed a lot. Matt wasn’t exactly the hero and he kind off didn’t get the beauty. But it was leaning towards making Matt the hero and let him get the beauty. Otherwise, why would everyone die and only he and the beauty stayed alive (okay, also his friend)? Besides, the other actors didn’t come fully to their potential like the one guy who yelled at Luhan and sent him to the kitchen. What was his purpose in the movie? Only to yell at Luhan (poor guy, he must’ve gotten many antifans)? And I don’t know why only Matt could kill the Taotie with his friend (2 people), while dozen other soldiers couldn’t take one Taotie down? His skills with the bow must’ve been truly amazing. But, then I don’t understand why the last battle with the Taotie, general Lin shot the arrow. Isn’t it Matt who has the skills? If she had such great skills, why didn’t she use it before? I truly don’t know anymore. (Yimou Zhang probably wanted to not make Matt the hero. But really, after all those other scenes…)
When the movie reached its climax, I didn’t feel the excitement. It was very anticlimactic. I was like: Okay, is this it? Oh…The Taotie were supposedly very intelligent. They even used two battles as cover to dig through the great wall. It’s beyond me how, when they see some black balls on a Taotie, they still let him pass. Won’t they be suspicious about those strange things? The queen is their lives, they should’ve been more careful.
I saw many other movies of Andy Law. He was and is still one of my favorite actors. He was one of the best actors in those movies, but in this one, his acting was bad. I don’t know if it’s him or the director’s fault, but he didn’t act to his potential. It’s also been a while since, I’ve seen him in a movie, so maybe he lost his touch for acting. He failed miserably as strategist Wang.
There aren’t many good things I can say about this movie. One thing that stood out was the visual. It was perfectly done. Then again, it’s Yimou Zhang. He’s a master at visuals. I liked the costumes and the weapons.
The English of the Chinese who were raised in China was very good. One of the best I’ve ever heard from Chinese actors.
I also liked the story and the humor. I’ve never heard about the Taoties before. They turned out to be a real legend. Never too old to learn new things.
Wrapping it up: I went with such high expectations, but was so disappointed. There’s a Chinese idiom which is: the bigger the expectation, the greater the disappointment. It turned out to be true. I will give this movie a 2.5/5, only because I’m fan of Matt Damon XD.