Over the Christmas holiday I wasn’t feeling well, so I had lots of opportunities to just lay around and watch movies and TV shows. At one point, I decided that I was in the mood to watch a Medieval Chinese epic — or whatever the correct term might be — something like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon or The House of Flying Daggers, two of my favorite movies. We now have Netflix for Wii, which is a great way to watch movies or television just by browsing by subject.

After trying out a couple of other movies that quickly didn’t feel like what I was in the mood for, I came across Red Cliff, a John Woo’s epic war film set in 208-209 A.D. It was just what I wanted to watch. Here’s the trailer:

Here’s the basic plot. In the summer of 208, Emperor Xian is forced into allowing his prime minister, Cao Cao, to march to war against two of the southern warlords, Sun Quan and Liu Bei, eventually forcing them into an alliance against Cao Cao’s overwhelmingly large forces. Cao Cao successfully attacks Liu Bei first, and Liu Bei sends his trusted strategist Zhuge Liang
to negotiate an alliance with Sun Quan’s forces. His success gives Cao Cao the pretense he needs to attack. The allied armies gather at Red Cliff, Sun Quan’s main military base.

Believing that the allied forces will be distracted by his huge navy, Cao Cao sends a cavalry force to storm Red Cliff. Zhuge Liang, however, anticipates this movie, and the allied forces defeat the “surprise” attack. Cao Cao is therefore forced to plan a naval attack against Red Cliff. His navy is commanded by two southern warriors, a fact that Cao Cao thinks will help him win the battle, since they are more familiar with the area.