Legendary Hong Kong action specialist John Woo and international superstar Tony Leung reunite for their first feature film together since 1992's Hard Boiled with this historical drama set during the decisive 208 A.D. battle that heralded the end of the Han Dynasty. Adapted in part from the beloved Chinese tome Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Red Cliff opens in the year 208 A.D., just as Prime Minister-turned-General Cao Cao (Zhang Fengyi) seeks permission from Han dynasty Emperor Xian (Wang Ning) to organize a southward-bound mission designed to silence troublesome warlords Liu Bei (You Yong) and Sun Quan (Chang Chen). As the expedition gets under way, Cao Cao's troops rain destruction on Liu Bei's army, forcing the latter to retreat and convincing Liu Bei's military strategist Zhuge Liang (Takeshi Kaneshiro) that their only hope for victory is to form an alliance with Sun Quan. Increasingly aware of the monumental struggle ahead, both sides begin preparing for the battle that will ultimately shape the future of an entire nation. Originally envisioned as a single film, Red Cliff was eventually split into two parts due to an excessive running time that approached five hours.
~ Jason Buchanan, All Movie Guide