The Great Wall

The “Great Wall” is actually just a series of pretty okay walls that we’ve joined together over time. They were being built as early as the 7th century BC, in order to protect China’s borders from invading nomads. It was built over a period of 1700 years and stretches over 8850km.

The film The Great Wall is not nearly as impressive an accomplishment, even by blockbuster standards. It’s an action-adventure-monster movie that represents one of the several legends told about The Great Wall, and the things from which it was supposedly built to protect.

Somebody obviously has some compromising nude pictures of Matt Damon, so he stars as great-wall-movie-matt-damon.jpegthe ambiguous white guy who’s been roaming around with a group looking for black powder. Lots of his men have been picked off and they should have turned back, but instead the remaining men run into a scary beast that eats all but two. Then William and his pal get picked up by the Chinese army near the wall and are more or less taken prisoner, but it seems only so that the white guys can be really impressed by all the Chinese ingenuity.

They’ve been preparing to face these beasts for 60 years. They have special units with special skills: the armoured bear troop engages in combat, the eagles specialize in archery, the tigers have catapults and burning rocks. The crane troop is an all female group who bungee down a pit with spears, and the unlucky deer are the cavalry.

The white guys decide that while the Chinese army is preoccupied with the beast attack, they should seize the opportunity to rob them and run. I was wholly confused by Matt Damon’s American accent in a time period when Americans did not yet exist. A lot of people balked about Matt Damon being cast in this film, but this is not whitewashing as we know it. His character was always supposed to be non-Chinese. I just don’t understand how he’s a medieval Bostonian.

As you can imagine, the battle sequences are pretty eye-popping with all these fancy fight techniques and inventive weaponry. It feels both ancient and futuristic at the same time. Screen_Shot_2016-07-28_at_2.00.40_PM.0.pngCertainly director Zhang Yimou has a visual flair but this movie overly relies on effects and imagery at the expense of literally everything else. Zhang Yimou’s special spice blend is missing. There’s no subtlety. There’s no sensitivity. And the story is just plain lacking. It starts to feel repetitive even within its 104 minutes. But it’s gloriously explody. It is that. Kaboom.

 

 

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36 thoughts on “The Great Wall

    1. Jay Post author

      I was worried this would be egregious white washing, but then I realized it was a mostly Chinese production, so where’s the motivation? As it turns out, he’s supposed to be a white guy, but I think it’s still a weird move for him, career wise. Doesn’t seem his style. Must have paid a boatload.

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  1. tubularsock

    Well obviously you haven’t heard of the lost tribe of “medieval Bostonian’s”. Not surprising. Most of them crossed the Great Wall of China and went on to shimmy past the Great Wall of Mexico and along the Eastern Seaboard of North America and it is there that they invented backed beans.**
    **Source: The Tubularsock History of the Other World, pp. 8003-8007.

    Thanks for a great review. Tubularsock will wait for The Great Wall 3!

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  2. calensariel

    Wondered if this was going to be any good, but after seeing the previews we decided it didn’t feel quite right, for lack of a better way to put it. Might have been the accent, rather the lack of!

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    1. Jay Post author

      Yeah, there are quite a few elements that don’t jibe with the ancient setting. It’s a myth rather than historical so I guess they’re allowed to be weird, but I couldn’t quite believe it.

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  3. tomrankin1963

    I love Asian cinema, and it looks like fun, visual candy with great fights. Your review sounds about what I expect, but it’s also kind of what I want. Haha.

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  4. Birgit

    A Boston accent..hahahaa makes me think of Edward G Robinson in The 10 Commandments who has a Brooklyn accent. Yes, seeing the trailers and my hubby and I both looked at each other wondering why Matt Damon is in this

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  5. Sarah Ferguson and Choppy

    I keep seeing previews for this and being like, ‘how in the world did something like this get made?’ and then I think it can’t have been made solely for an American audience, or even for an American audience at all. Then the Matt Damon thing starts to make sense. When I lived in China and Japan, there were all sorts of ads starring American movie stars who never would have done so in America (think, Lost in Translation in real life: Ah-nold is hawking cell phones and Ewan McGregor is encouraging you to take English lessons at a private school).

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    1. Jay Post author

      Right? It seems like a strange choice for him, but I suspect China has deep pockets and they’re highly motivated to break out into mainstream American audiences, and I’m sure they see him as a pretty safe gateway.

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