THE GREAT WALL
Set during the Song dynasty (960 - 1279), the characters of William (Matt Damon) and Tovar (Pedro Pascal) are mercenaries from the west, battle scarred experts searching the east for the mythical black powder (which will aide them greatly in their rogue activities). But they find themselves drawn into a mammoth battle unlike any they (or anyone else on earth) ever encountered. The Great Wall Of China was in fact built to keep a deadly enemy at bay - a horde of vicious unstoppable monsters attacking every 60 years (motivations unfolding as the battles and dangers increase) - and they happen to get stuck in the middle of this on the day the monsters attack(!).
Having been involved with some shady dealings around the world, naturally William grows a conscience (against Tovar's wishes) and feels compelled to do the right thing and help the forces of the Order to stop these beasts (also greatly motivated by Jing Tian's attractive but tough commanding character). The force faces the enemy with innovative regiments, weapons and (stylish) bloody execution.
Original story ideas were contributed by World War Z writer Max Brooks (son of comedy legend Mel) and Last Samurai director Edward Zwick, the imaginative tale woven around the actual purpose of this 21,000 km wall resulting in some fantastic design to bring it to life, from costumes to sets (real and computer generated), making this a little more than just a straight forward action film.
In addition to his richly textured films like Raise The Red Lantern, director Zhang Yimou's wushu (martial arts) movies like Hero and House Of Flying Daggers almost always reflect a ceremonial Chinese historic period steeped in tradition, but is further elevated by always combining the lyrical with the visceral, virtually turning them into action art films, packed with drama. That same ethic is applied here, but with an American action hero in the lead and monsters as the antagonists.
Widely touted as Zhang Yimou's first English speaking film and the biggest movie shot entirely in China, it is spearheading a new era of this country entering the big league, which has always traditionally (and historically) been held by Hollywood.
PS. Contentious issues like bullfighting and whaling get hinted at in some of the scene scenarios which I'm sure some will pick up on and expect Damon to have spoken out about (but, if seen in the context of the time period…).
5 - Blistering
4 - Hot
3 - Smolder
2 - Room Temperature
1 - Fizzled
0 - Extinguished