Saturday, 11 February 2017

A Pinoy @ The Movies: Great Wall

This movie isn't a travel documentary about China's five-thousand-mile-long fortress, which Donald Trump wanted to duplicate in North America to keep away Mexican tourists. It is a fantasy version of a Chinese tour documentary on how to enjoy a side trip to the Great Wall when you visit Beijing.

It's always entertaining to watch these fantasy movies which use historical elements as their jump-off point. And Great Wall is one of them.

Great Wall is about a fictional monster that plagued China every 60 years thousands of years ago, and this monster happened to be the main reason why the Great Wall of China was built. History books would tell us the main purpose of the Wall was to keep nomads away. This movie tells us, however, that these 'nomads' were actually monsters which wanted to devour villages in China.   

At the start of the film, Matt Damon and his sidekick were being chased by Chinese bandits along some slopes which looked like the rainbow mountains of the Zhangye Danxia Landform Geological Park. I thought it would have been amazing on screen if they actually featured those colored mountains, but I doubted if it was logistically possible for the whole production to shoot scenes on those colored slopes with galloping horses and bow-and-arrow warriors. I wonder if the Chinese government would want those ecological wonders to be disturbed.

Aside from the captivating computer-generated images of the battles between man and monster, I was especially impressed in how well the Chinese soldiers, both men and women, dressed up for the war! Their costumes were perfectly tailored in very leathery fabric and chic designs. I guess, if these Chinese warriors and soldiers had to die in battle, they would at least die in haute couture. 

Other than Matt Damon, familiar faces in the movie include Willen Dafoe and Lu Han, a former member of EXO, a Korean boy band, who played a clumsy young soldier. Of course, it's part of the marketing ploy that, in order to attract young viewers for the movie, they should cast an actor who's popular with the young. 

And with EXO's millions of fans in Asia, it shouldn't be a surprise if most of the ticket sales were generated by these young screaming girls, who also happened to be screaming their lungs out when I was at Incheon International Airport on the day EXO was flying to another country.

But you won't be screaming if you watch Great Wall (unless you're Lu Han's fan). You will just be entertained by battle acrobatics, stunts, costumes, and how you'd be able to appreciate a virtual tour of the Great Wall of China by simply buying a movie ticket.


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