Before you run read this review and, definitely before you run out to spend your hard earned money on Matt Damon's latest flick, understand that it first opened in China December 16 and has so far earned $170 million in China alone. In all foreign markets total, it has earned $226 million already against a production budget of $150 million.


What I think of it isn't important to anyone except people who think they might be heading out to see a quality Matt Damon film. For those people, you will be happy to know that Matt Damon MUST have been paid a LOT of money to be in this contrived balderdash.


I freely admit, that for most films, I go in fairly ignorant about their premise - unless it's pretty obvious. I fit screenings into my schedule with little time to preview films; sometimes not even their trailers! So, I just assumed this was going to be kinda like "The Last Samurai" or "Shogun" or something like that - where a white guy wanders into feudal China and gets enfolded into the army.

Instead, this is some half-baked concoction with the accidental European warriors wandering into China on a quest for black powder (gun powder) which was invented in the 9th century in China. Oh, by the way, gunpowder's journey from China to Europe was through the Middle East and India first. I'm surprised director Yimou Zhang would let a timeline slip like that through!


Damon is William accompanied by his Spanish-like comrade Tovar, played the Chilean actor Pedro Pascal. They are the last two mercenaries remaining after their group was attacked by presumably bandits and then something unseen in the dark - that William effortlessly killed with one thrust of his mighty sword! [sigh]


They get captured by the entire Chinese army who are amazed by their tale of heroism; they only thing that has kept them from being put to death. The Chinese are led by Strategist Wang (Andy Lau) and his head strong assistant Commander Lin Mae (Tian Jing) who spare the two white men's lives as the massive Chinese Army prepares to defend it's magnificent wall.

You see, contrary to popular belief, the Great Wall was not built to keep out mere human enemies, but instead to repel an invading army of Jurassic Park-reject velociraptors with terrible CGI dental work that we've seen hundreds of times lately in horror films.


Once you stop laughing, the film continues with the critters - known as Tai Teis - are preparing to attack a bit earlier than expected, their last attack was 60-years prior. Apparently, they were pretty stupid then but have become much more intelligent this time around.


There are seemingly millions of them but Wang and Lin Mae plan to hold off the beast with sheer regimental pageantry of their colorful army. The army includes majestic drummers, archers garbed in luxurious red silk and female spearchuckers clad in blue silks. It takes about three of them to kill on critter. In other words the critters eat three of them before one gets killed.


Matt Damon to the rescue as he is armed with the one thing that might subdue the creatures... a magnet! Yes, with absolutely no explanation at all, it turns out that the Tai Teis become passive when in the presence of a magnet, which William just happens to have with him. Um...


Willem Dafoe stars as a long lost European who is still living in China, who also came to steal some gunpowder. He becomes William and Tovar's frenemy and offers them a way to escape. But will William abandon his new found duty to help the poor Chinese fight off the monsters? Um...


The only other thing you need to know is this is the biggest Hollywood-China coproduction ever and it has already paid off. The bad CGI and stupid story are not important.


"The Great Wall" is a stupid waste of talent, a stupid waste of computer imaging, a stupid waste of 123-minutes of your life. But it wasn't really meant for this market, so...   -- GEOFF BURTON