john woo's red cliff finally arrives

John Woo's long-anticipated epic movie Red Cliff opens this week in Asia. It's been a long, hard road for the project from the start, filled with major cast dropouts (then drop-ins, then dropouts again), a massive ballooning budget, and even a death on the set. But the movie has finally arrived, and according to the one person I know who's actually seen it, it's "spectacular." Could this be John Woo's return to glory? The world will soon find out: 'Red Cliff' ready for its closeup.

Red Cliff, adapted from China's classic novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms, is over four hours long. It's one of those big-ass costume action spectacles. For Asian territories, the movie is being split into two parts, with the first released yesterday in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Korea. Audiences outside of Asia will get a single movie, expected to be 2 1/2 hours long. We'll get to see it stateside here in January.

The story is set in the final days of the Han Dynasty, in the year 208, covering the war that established the Three Kingdoms period, when China had three rulers. The movie stars Tony Leung, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Zhang Fengyi, Chang Chen and Lin Chiling. Yeah, it's a big deal. Watch this 9-minute promo reel above to get a glimpse of the scale and scope of the production. Sorry, no English subtitles. But you get the idea.

Oh, how I want this movie to be good. I want to see the John Woo that made Hard Boiled and The Killer, not the John Woo that made Hard Target and Paycheck. I want Red Cliff to be awesome, and not a big, fat, four-hour piece of stink. I want a lot of things. Anyway, TIME recently did an interview with the director, featuring reader-submitted questions: John Woo will now take your questions. And here's video from the interview: 10 Questions for John Woo.

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