Man Jiang Hong
2023 / 159m - China
Mystery, Thriller
Full River Red poster


June 04, 2023


Yimou Zhang's latest feels like a reimagining of Hero with all the fight scenes removed. If you didn't like Hero's focus on fantastical martial arts that may sound like a wet dream. And sure enough, there's plenty of intrigue here, it's just that people talking about conspiracies for almost three hours straight isn't the most invigorating way to construct a film.

There's a bit of a mystery involving a missing letter, two chosen soldiers are tasked to find the letter and reveal its message. They set off on their mission, but it quickly dawns on them that their mission won't be all that simple. With each discovery they make, they get one step closer to a massive conspiracy.

Without the action bits, Yimou struggles to keep things interesting throughout. He certainly tried, with a clear focus on people walking from point A to B (I know that sounds weird, but watching the film, it'll make sense) and a strangely modernized score, but it's not quite enough. The mystery is nice and the twists and reveals are properly realized, but nothing justifies the excessive runtime. Good by any standard, but not great.