Myths, legends in Great Wall action film

The Great Wall with Matt Damon, Jing Tian, Andy Lau, Pedro Pascal, Willem Dafoe, Zhang Hanyu, Lu Han. Directed by Zhang Yi Mou.

3.5 / 5

IF you have ever wondered what the real reason is why The Great Wall of China was built, watch Zhang Yi Mou’s latest cinematographic masterpiece.

On the expensive side to make, The Great Wall, set in Imperial China is an action packed, military and war themed film filled with magnificent cinematography, underpinned by legends and myths. 

The film starts with two 11th-century European mercenaries, William (Matt Damon) and Tovar (Pedro Pascal) scouring China for “black powder” to gain richness and wealth. However, they are attacked by a beast that they managed to kill.  William is curious to find out what he killed and decides to carry the severed beast’s arm with him. On their quest for black powder the pair walk straight into a highly specialised military regime, the Nameless Order, whose sole responsibility is to protect and uphold the wall.

Now captured, the general and his commanders interrogate the westerners after finding the beast’s limb. Thankfully one of their commanders can speak English and interprets, and William and Tovar soon learn they have just walked into a dire situation.

The Nameless Order have been preparing for an attack that occurs once every 60 years. Still the two westerners think the battalion is going to war with another country. To their shock, the enemy is the beast they killed earlier, the Toa Tei, a nasty flesh eating monster who awakens every 60 years.

The rise of the Toa Tei is a reminder to the Chinese people, and the rest of the world, what the consequences of greed are. The more the Toa Tei queen feeds, the more they multiply and the more they need to feed.

The Great Wall was built to stop the Tao Tei from entering the Forbidden City where more than two- million people resides. Should the queen feed on more humans, she is able to breed more Tao Tei to take over the entire world.

This is the secret of The Great Wall, and those who survive the attack are never allowed to leave the place.

In the battle with Tao Tei, an army strategist realised that a magnet is able to control the Tao Tie enough for a soldier to kill it. Saying that, William decides to help the Nameless Order by teaching the unit a technique to capture a live Tao Tie for experiment.

While the attacks take place, William and Tovar prove to be instrumental in their combat abilities to the Nameless Order. They are faced with a dilemma where an opportunity presents itself for them to escape with massive amounts of black powder, or stay and fight – possibly to never have an opportunity to leave again.

The fighting techniques and unique weapons the Nameless Order uses are impressive , not only the two westerners but also to the viewer. Be prepared for heart stopping moments and exciting fighting scenes that will keep you on the edge of the seat.

The Great Wall falls short of the old-fashioned medieval adventure it sometimes aspires to be, but it is consistently engaging as an almost abstract exercise in visual sumptuousness.

If for no other reason but to enjoy the exceptional cinematography, the CGI and the beautiful costumes (which each symbolizes the five elements of earth and a different sets of battle skills such as archery, close combat and so forth), The Great Wall is good entertainment and worth the big screen.

There is also an underlying theme with some good moral pointers regarding issues of greed, honesty, bravery, integrity and trust, so it’s a good one for the teenagers to get to see.

Out now at Rosehill Cinema. Check TotT page for screen times.

Leave a Reply