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Was it worth the six-month wait? The answer is a resounding affirmative. John Woo’s second and final segment of the epic battle extravaganza “Red Cliff” picks up with a monstrous, 800,000-strong army led by invading warlord Cao Cao (Zhang Fengyi) about to close in on Jiangdong, the province of young prince Sun Quan (Chang Chen). The closing scene of Part I had Woo’s signature scene of a white pigeon flying out over the sea. In the screening room there had erupted a collective sigh of deep satisfaction and anguished anticipation. Couldn’t we fast forward time somehow and see the sequel, like, five minutes later?

In Part I, Cao Cao realized that Sun’s army is a force to be reckoned with. So, now he has reassembled his troops on the water — the opening shows Cao Cao’s naval fleet of 2,000 ships floating just outside the port of Jiangdong, and facing the shore of the natural granite fortress known as Red Cliff. Sun’s defending army consists of a mere 30,000 troops and 100 ships. True, the prince has his trusted general, Zhou Yu (Tony Leung), and genius military consultant, Zhuge Liang (Takeshi Kaneshiro), but Cao Cao believes numbers are everything, and he’s so certain of a quick, landslide victory that he organizes a soccerlike game so his troops can relax.

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