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Great Wall, The (3D)


Stars: Matt Damon, Jing Tian, Pedro Pascal, Willem Dafoe, Andy Lau

Director: Zhang Yimou

A rousing fantasy adventure from the director of Red Sorghum and House of Flying Daggers, and set in ancient China.

Impressively mounted, the film focuses on William (Damon), the leader of a band of western adventurers venturing deep into Chinese territory around the 12th century in search of the 'black powder' (gunpowder) which they believe to have been invented there,

Decimated by marauding tribesman, the party is then attacked by some kind of monster, further reducing the group to just William and his Spanish partner Tovar (Pascal) before William kills it.

Pursued again by tribesmen, they come to a city within the Great Wall of China itself, densely defended by the Nameless Order, thousands of heavily-armoured warriors, both male (in gold) and female (in blue), of whom Commander Lin (Jing Tian), although a woman, is among the most feared.

When William produces the claw of the creature he killed, the city's generals realise they are soon to come under attack from the tao tei, huge lizard-like monsters driven on by a queen.

Naturally, William joins the fight, while Tovar and a long-held western prisoner (Dafoe) have one eye on the black powder, which proves to be all too real.

The swarms of monsters (in their thousands) are impressively created by CGI magic, as are the hordes of the armoured Chinese defenders, The subsequent arrow and spear-wielding action, augmented by black-powder explosions, is pretty much non-stop, against the most spectacular of backdrops.

Not much brain food here, perhaps, but much to delight the eye, including masses of lanterns released into the night sky to accompany the spirit of a departed general.

David Quinlan

USA/Canada/China/India 2016. UK Distributor: Universal. Colour by FotoKem.
104 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 16 Feb 2017