A B-movie Masquerading as a Would-Be Epic, ‘The Great Wall’ Bewilders

The Great Wall

When it was announced that Matt Damon would be starring in a big budget movie about the Great Wall of China, there was a bit of an uproar over what seemed to be a piece of ridiculous casting given Hollywood’s tenuous history with Asian representation. Little did people realize that The Great Wall was a multinational collaboration between China and Hollywood, and the movie wasn’t exactly going to be a piece of great historical accuracy. As it stands, The Great Wall is an extremely goofy would-be epic of the mythical battle between the Chinese and team of murderous psychic lizards with the wall itself is more like Batman’s utility belt, capable of doing whatever the story requires. Those fearing that The Great Wall would be like an updated version of The Conqueror (the famous misfire where John Wayne played Genghis Khan) should take comfort in knowing that this movie probably has more in common with Warcraft. In attempting to make a movie that appeals to two cultures, the makers of The Great Wall have made a movie that appeals to nobody.

William (Damon) is a medieval mercenary traversing the Asian continent in the hopes of acquiring “black power,” gun powder which they can sell for a great fortune in the western world. Where is exactly William is from is a bit of a mystery that is exacerbated by whatever accent is employing in any given scene. William and the Spaniard Tovar (Pedro Pascal) survive a harrowing encounter with a mysterious creature that killed most of their travelling party. The two make their way to the foot of the Great Wall, where they’re greeted with extreme suspicion until they reveal the limb of the beast that they killed the other night. It turns out that William and Tovar have stumbled into a war that dates backs thousands of years, with the people of China battling these killer lizards called Tao Tei who emerge every 60 years. Soon William gains the trust of Commander Lin (Tian Jing) and Strategist Wang (Andy Lau), among the leaders of the Nameless Order, leading the battle against the creatures. But these creatures keep evolving and the battle for China’s survival hinges on the bravery along…the Great Wall.

Lurking in the shadows of The Great Wall is Willem Dafoe as Ballard, a man familiar with the destructive power of the black powder but has been trapped in China for the past quarter century as the Chinese leadership is reluctant to allow the gunpowder to fall into the wrong hands. Therein lies the film’s moral tale of greed versus duty, with William, Tovar, and Ballard serving as a western invaders without the deep-seated loyalty that defines the Chinese forces.

The Great Wall is a bad movie, but at least it’s an entertaining bad movie. Damon tries to bring his action star charms to the role of William by adding a few quips here and there, yet they rarely work as intended because it’s easier to laugh at the wobbly accent work of the star. The Chinese stars of The Great Wall avail themselves well in their bilingual performances, and there’s a certain talent to delivering the film’s absurd dialogue with a straight face in Chinese and English. That script, credited to six different writers (screenplay by Carlo Bernard, Doug Miro, and Tony Gilroy from a story by Max Brooks, Edward Zwick, and Marshall Herskovitz), is a doozy with wooden dialogue that is forcefully blunt and escalating scenarios of increasing banality.

Everything about The Great Wall is just so over-the-top in its silliness, from the color coordinated uniforms of the Chinese soldiers that resemble the costumes from Power Rangers to the all-powerful psychic lizards that are the bane of China’s existence. Director Yimou Zhang seems to be having fun with the material, and crafts some fairly decent action sequences out of CG-soaked frames in 3D. Zhang loves using 3D as a means to have arrows fling towards the camera, and then following it all the way to its target. There’s no shortage of spectacle within The Great Wall but so little of it has meaning aside from just sheer showmanship, just barreling forward with an array of set pieces that barely cohere.

If you ever wanted to see Matt Damon save China from an attack by the lizards from Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas, The Great Wall is the movie you’ve been waiting for. The film features some decent production design and effects but is constantly upping the ante of its insanity, making the movie a dumb but mildly entertaining piece of B-movie fare. Having Matt Damon headline a film about the Great Wall of China may seem like a misguided decision, but once you’ve seen The Great Wall it really takes a backseat to the many other misguided decisions in this bizarro movie.

Shop Deadpool tees in our officially licensed Marvel store!

Leave a Reply

Animation/Anime Interviews Animation/Anime News Animation/Anime Reviews Film/TV Interviews Film/TV News Film/TV Review
Baywatch
This ‘Baywatch’ Lets Laughter Drown on Their Shores

I typically caution people against judging a movie before seeing it,...

Flaked Returns to Netflix for a Second Season

From Netflix – Flaked S2 launches globally on Netflix on Friday,...

Riverdale Comes to Blu-Ray

From Warner Bros. Home Entertainment – BURBANK, CA (May 22, 2017)...

Enabled Gaming Gaming News Gaming Reviews
Nex Machina
Housemarque Games Reveals Release Date for Nex Machina

Housemarque Reveals release date for arcade-style twin-stick shooter, Nex Machina, set...

Harvest Moon: Light of Hope
Harvest Moon: Light of Hope Coming to Nintendo Switch, Steam, and PlayStation 4

Natsume is bringing Harvest Moon to Nintedo Switch, Steam, and PlayStation 4...

NASCAR Heat 2 Cover Race
704Games Announces NASCAR Heat 2 with NASCAR Heat 2 Cover Race

704Games announces the sequel to last years fast paced NASCAR experience...

Comic Creator Interviews Comic/Graphic Novel News Comic/Graphic Novel Reviews Manga News Manga Reviews Novel/Novella Author Interviews Novel/Novella News Novel/Novella Reviews
Arcana Reveals New Book for SDCC

This is a sneak peek from Wayne Young’s debut graphic Novel,...

9.0/10
‘Button’ Down for the Conclusion in Flash No. 22

Title: Flash No. 22 Script: Joshua Williams Art: Howard Porter Color:...

8.8/10
Injustice 2 No. 2 Batman gets a Little…Triggered

Title: Injustice 2 #2 Writer: Tom Taylor Penciller: Bruno Redondo Inker:...

Apparel/Personal Maintenance News Apparel/Personal Maintenance Reviews Entertainment Product News Entertainment Product Reviews Food/Beverage Reviews Hardware News Hardware Reviews Mystery Box News Mystery Box Reviews
DC Collectibles Reveals New 2018 ‘DC Artist Alley’ Line At Five Points Festival

From DC Collectibles – Designer super hero toys — meet street...

hubplus c review
Convenient, Multi-Capable, and Intutitive – myCharge HubPlus C Review

By far the most convenient and intuitive power bank currently available,...

MIND headset Review
Play Games Using Only the Power of Your Mind – MIND Headset Review

Soap Studio lets you play games with your mind, bringing a...

Arena Football Automotives MMA, Kick Boxing & Boxing Professional Wrestling
Epic Fighting 34 Results

Friday, May 12, 2017 – Epic Fighting took place at their...

King of the Cage Heads to Black Bear Casino Resort on June 9 for ‘Fire Starter’

RANCHO CUCAMONGA, CA. (May 10, 2017) – King of the Cage, the leader...

James ‘Lights Out’ Toney to Face ‘Lightning’ Mike Sheppard in his Final Fight

YPSILANTI, Mich., May 4, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Main Event Professional Boxing,...

Adult Continuity Comics on the Can Cultural Junk Drawer Future Comic Rock Stars Is That Racist? Revisiting the Reviled THAT'S NOT ROTTEN! The B-Reel The Cantina Scene This Week in Crowdfunding What the HELL Did I just...?
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Cultural Junkdrawer – Season’s End: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 4 is everything it’s been building up...

Wonder Woman
Is That Sexist? – ‘Wonder Woman’ Marketing Maybe/Maybe Not?

There is only one month left until one of DC Comics’...

Adult Continuity Issue Nine – Ten Inch Mutant Ninja Turtles

The porn parody has a long, hard, turgid and difficult to...

Event News Event Reviews
Id10T
ID10T Music Festival + Comic Conival Announces First Wave of Panels

ID10T Music Festival + Comic Conival Announces First Wave of Panels...

Disney Channel, Disney XD & Disney Junior Announce Events for D23 Expo

From D23 Expo – BURBANK, Calif. (May 17, 2017) – Disney...

South City Comic Con to be held on June 11th

  South City Comic-Con Returns to the South San Francisco on...

Gaming Uncensored Toon-In-Talk
Gaming Uncensored: Year in Review 2016

A look back at the year in gaming.

Gaming Uncensored Roundtable: December 2016

December’s roundtable discusses story in games with Chad, Josh, and Spencer....

Gaming Uncensored: Podcast #349

Jamie reflects on some of his time with the HTC Vive....

Music Interviews Music News Music Reviews
Lahna Turner’s ‘Limeade’ is a Hilariously Haunting Comedy Album

Many people are roll their eyes at the idea of musical...

Prince’s ‘Deliverance’ Reminds Us of Who We Lost

On Friday, April 21st, it will be one year since we...

Sabroso Fest, How can you go Wrong with Beer, Tacos and Lucha Libre!?!(Photo Gallery)

The Sabroso Craft Beer, Taco and Music Festival sponsored by 95.5...