At the Imperial Court of the Eastern Han Dynasty in Xuchang in the summer AD 208, during the final days of the Han Dynasty, the shrewd Prime Minster of the Han Empire, Cao Cao demanded the puppet Emperor launch a campaign against the warlords Liu Bei and Sun Quan in southern China, whom he considers rebels against the Han Dynasty and unify all of China. Thus began a military campaign of unprecedented scale, led by the Prime Minister himself with his mighty million-man army swiftly conquering the southern lands. At the Battle of Chang Ban, Liu Bei was forced to abandon the city of Xinye and led his army and 100,000 civilians unwilling to be under Cao Cao's rule, on an exodus. Left with no choice, Zhuge Liang, their top military strategist, negotiated with Lord Sun Quan, the leader of the South and forged an unlikely alliance. As Cao Cao prepared for a huge naval invasion to destroy the kingdoms of Xu and Eastern Wu, Zhuge Liang and Zhou Yu, the Military Commander of Sun Quan, devised an indigenous strategy by formulating a plan to entrap Cao Cao's army, who were moving towards Wu on both land and water. The first battle began with Sun Shangxiang luring Cao Cao's vanguard into the Eight Trigrams Formation (八卦之陣), where they faced total humiliating defeat. Cao Cao learnt of the loss, but showed no disappointment, & proceeded to lead his army to camp on the opposite side of the river, directly facing the allied army's camp at Chi Bi. Meanwhile, the allied forces threw a banquet to celebrate their victory. The movie ends in a cliffhanger to start the BATTLE OF RED CLIFF.
What makes RED CLIFF noteworthy to watch is the impressive display of Battle Formation with excellent and outstanding 'Kung Fu' scenes.
This $80 million historical epic, is the most expensive film ever produced by a Chinese film industry. The 5-hour movie was spit into 2 parts for the Asian version and released in July 2008 & January 2009. Audiences outside of Asia will get a 2½-hour single movie later in the year.