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irected by Zhang Yimou, The Great Wall is a US$150 million fantasy adventure. Starring Matt Damon (one of my favourite actors) and a stellar cast of Chinese actors. Check out IMDB for a full listing and details.

Click on image to view official trailer (captions by Eric Alagan)



Damon plays William, an Irish mercenary who arrives at China’s Great Wall together with Spanish companion Tovar (Game of Thrones’ Pedro Pascal) just as it is besieged by a monstrous horde of Taotie – mythical beasts from the bowels of Hell, whom the Chinese believe were sent to keep their greed in check.

Initially the foreigners simply wish to flee with as much explosive “black powder” as they can carry, but after earning the respect of Commander Lin (Jing Tian), newly appointed leader of the wall’s Nameless Order, William agrees to stay and help defend the kingdom.

Source: South China Morning Post


Simply love the CGI in The Great Wall. The CGI slinks into the background and that’s how it should be.

Non-stop action if that’s your cup of tea, coffee or teh-tarikh.

I went in knowing it’ll be mindless action and therefore was not disappointed. Expectations lowered, the movie was less of a disappointment.


It is okay to create a fantasy world but one must live by the rules of that world. Here, the scriptwriters messed up and surprisingly, so did acclaimed director     Zhang Yimou.

A fine line separates critique and nit-picking, and with that caveat, here is a sampling:

  1. The commander dies and almost immediately – within minutes? – the soldiers had come up with literally hundreds of lanterns. With high casualties expected, perhaps the stores had a ready supply. The scene also reminded me of the Thai festival – Yi Peng.
  2. What was even worse – the hot air balloons, which our heroes used to ride to the capital, were supposed to be “experimental” and yet they had dozens primed and ready to take off. You would think they would have made a few prototypes and get those perfect before embarking on mass production. Okay, large stores – very large stores – and idle soldiers, as they have been waiting 60 years for the Taotie to appear.
  3. Lu Han (as Han Lu – come on, is that the best they can do?) is punished and sent to do kitchen duties. Okay. But we see him in full armour and helmet while engaged in washing chores. Hmmm, full battle dress even when taking a shit, I suppose.
  4. The Taotie Queen did not match up when compared to the more realistic queen in the Alien franchise. I mean, instead of been a baby machine, the queen was actively directing the war. If she can do that, she can certainly feed herself instead of having to be fed – regurgitated food – reminded me of African hunting dogs feeding their vulnerable young. The scriptwriters could have done more with the backstory.
  5. The Mongols can come and go as they wish – the Taotie don’t seem to have bothered or driven them to extinction. Perhaps Mongols don’t taste good.
  6. The Caucasian characters were fairly well developed – considering this is a plot driven action movie. But all the Chinese characters were resolutely jig-sawed from cardboard. Considering the renowned talent, the scriptwriters could have done better here. But, it was a mindless action movie and one must not nit-pick.

All said and done, I had lowered expectations and therefore enjoyed the movie. I would recommend it for an afternoon of casual entertainment that does not tax one’s intellect.

My rating: 5.5 out of 10.0