The film is directed by Zhang Yimou known as one of the most breathtaking visual stylists of the current time. This is his first English language production, and is the largest film ever shot entirely in China.
The film opens with a group of European mercenaries fighting off the attack of Chinese warriors. Among them are Matt Damon and Pedro Pascal. We learn that they have been wandering around in China for 6 months searching for a legendary weapon called “black powder”. They outsmart the warriors and safely escape. During that night something comes out of the night and attacks their camp. Damon and Pascal’s characters fight it off and soon are the only survivors of their group. Damon’s character slices an appendage off of whatever was attacking them in the process of killing it, and decides to take it with them so they can find out what attacked them.
In the morning they are heading out and once again are being chased. They are trying to outrun the warriors and run unexpectedly into the Great Wall.
We learn of this fearless force, the Nameless Order, which has spent their lives training and preparing to protect the Wall and everything beyond it from a mythical creature, Tao Tei.
The time and dedication to the preparation of fighting off and defeating this unique enemy is impressive, and the detail of the specialized weapons that they have devised and deployed is quite creative. But the movie falls short on some other key points, and causes the viewer to develop a list of questions.
Questions such as why does this Tao Tei only emerge every 60 years to launch attacks on the Great Wall, and why after a 900 year history of these attacks do they only launch their attacks on the Great Wall?
Another disappointment is the lack of any real character development.
Zhang Yimou does live up to his reputation, the film is visually stunning, and the mythical Tao Tei is unique and creative!