The Great Wall was fraught with peril from the very beginning.
For reasons that can only be financial, Matt Damon – an American white man – was cast as the lead in this highly Chinese film about the legend of the Great Wall of China.
Nowhere in the film is there a suitable explanation to justify his casting.
The movie is set hundreds of years ago, as a specialised army prepares to protect the emperor of China from mystical beasts attempting to breach the famous wall.
Damon plays William, somewhat of an outlaw, who has fought for various armies in his time.
Pedro Pascal (Oberyn Martell in Game of Thrones) is his offsider, and both are captured by the army at the wall.
The further into the film you get, the more the Great Wall army sounds like Thrones’ Knight’s Watch.
As the pair arrive at the wall thousands of greenish monsters with a pack mentality attack.
Seeing the army in motion is exciting. They are a well-oiled machine and director Yimou Zhang (House of Flying Daggers) employs some impressive camera tricks to make the most of the battle scene.
The costume department also turns in a great effort, with the stunning battle armour colour-coordinated for each battalion.
But it’s all too much too fast. We don’t care about the characters at all, don’t understand why these crazy beasts exist, let alone want to attack the wall and we definitely don’t understand why William, who never saw these creatures until the night before, is far more skilled at killing them than the army which has literally been training 60 years for nothing else.
It’s a shame that the story is so awful, because some of the film-making is truly top-notch.
Later in the film there are beautiful set pieces with dazzling rainbow lighting and hundreds of lanterns lighting up the sky.
There is also a great step forward in making one whole battalion of the army a women’s force.
The heroine Lin Mae (Tian Jing, soon to be in Kong: Skull Island) is self-sufficient, brave and skilled – it would have been great to see her in a more worthy film.
Verdict: don’t bother.