The Great Wall

"There are many things you have not seen."

Zhang Yimou has done serious dramas. He’s done big wuxia action films, but he hasn’t had a success in a while and perhaps it should come as no surprise that his newest film is designed to be a big fantasy action blockbuster – a legend about the Great Wall of China and the dragons they people were trying to thwart. While it’s been a success in China and the rest of the world, though, it opened third at the US box office, likely due to its terrible trailers that sold it poorly. But is the film any good? Join us – Pete Wright and Andy Nelson – as we wrap up our Zhang Yimou series with his 2016 film The Great Wall.

We talk about why this film surprised us quite a bit and how, even with some big problems, we both ended up having fun times with the film. We look at what Zhang brings to the table and what political messages he may be trying to get across with this film. We chat about the cast – notably Matt Damon, Jing Tian, Pedro Pascal, William Defoe and Andy Lau – and how the claims of whitewashing seem absurd; if anything, the film ends up having a nice multicultural feel to it. We look at the cinematography and production design, noting that everything is right up Zhang’s alley. We touch on Ramin Djawadi’s score and how it works perfectly for the story here. And we debate the numbers, wondering if it’s fair to out-and-out consider this a financial success since it’s made its money back, or if we need to consider it a failure in the bigger picture for not doing what they set out to do with it which was create captive audiences in China as well as the US.

Did Zhang make the right choice in making this film? Is it going to be considered a success or will it flop in the US? We’re curious to see how history holds this film up. So check out the movie – you’ll probably have more fun with it than you were expecting – then tune in to this week’s show. 

Film Sundries

Trailers of the Week

Andy's Trailer: The Discovery — "I love the sci-fi concept of this and love the cast. I’ve heard some mixed things from its premiere at Sundance, but I want to see it anyway. Proof of the afterlife? Sounds like it could make for an interesting story. We shall see..."

Pete's Trailer: The House — "I don’t know how else to characterize my feeling about the potential of this movie: in my mind, it’s going to be another Old School. Now, no one speaks until release."