The Great Wall is the first english movie by famous chinese director Zhang Yimou and tells the story of european mercenaries that has traveled to Asia in search of the secret of gunpowder.
So. Let’s start off with the acting. MAtt Damon plays the part of William Garin, a cocky archer know it all european mercenary who ends up in The Great Wall of China where he allies himself with the chinese general played by Jing Tian to protect the world from the monsters Tao Tei.
Among the supporting cast we have Pedro Pascal(Game of Thrones) As Williams sidekick Tovar, and the duos chemistry is worth praising. Him and Damon fight so well together and their cocky and quick replies to one another makes most of the humourous part of the movie. Among the chinese cast we have Jing Tian as the female general of the secret army on the Great Wall that is protecting China from the Tao Tei. She is sadly quite the let down on the acting part. The chemistry between her and the other main characters are unbelievable and boring to look at.
So. The story. This is a movie I really hope I would like, but it comes of as quite the snoozefest. Both in terms of directing and acting. It is the typical european hero coming to save a foreign culture story with its typical whitewashing and the story just isn’t very interesting. We have some monsters, some fighting but nothing remotely important or interesting in terms of the plot.
But the CGI is pretty incredible. I will give them that. The climax of the movie is William and the general fighting off hundreds of monsters in a tower of stained glass. It is not very logical but it looks incredible. Same when the Nameless order shows off their fighting skills on The Great Wall of China. It is visually a very pleasing movie to look at. It is just, boring in terms of the narrative.
Zhang Yimou knows how to make movies like that. Visually pleasing movies. He did Hero back in 2002 which is just a masterpiece and in terms of the visual parts The Great Wall is not bad. It is the story which is a problem.
The mise-en-scene is also something we should praise. The movie is colourful and the costumes and weapons look like a typical high quality Hollywood production. The cinematography is done by Zhao Xiaoding, a man responsible for most of Yimous previous films and also manages to capture the visual parts very well.
In terms of being a Hollywood Blockbuster. The Great Wall fails to live up to it’s potential. The whitewashing of a white saviour in a foreign culture is not really something that works anymore and the script is just awful. It doesn’t help that the chinese actors/Actresses fail to live up to any reasonable acting as well. If you like a visually pleasing movie to look at. The Great Wall has its perks, but overall it is quite the disappointment.