The Great Wall

The Great Wall

Zhang Yimou (2016)

12A Certificate


Our Score
Although Matt Damon is the strongest link in this US/Chinese co-production, he also looks hopelessly out of place. He stars as a mercenary captured by an order of warriors stationed on the Great Wall of China and joins them in trying to fend off an army of creatures that look like a cross between Komodo dragons and the hound demons from Ghost Busters. Early on there are high-flying crane shots and stunning landscapes captured by House of Flying Daggers director Zhang Yimou, but the promise of a film set in the Middle Ages and with epic scope is soon dashed as things quickly become claustrophobic and monotone. The obvious use of CGI to depict the beasts and the half-baked mythology explained in blunt dialogue is distinctly weird, as is the hollow philosophising where Damon exemplifies western capitalism opposite the oh-so noble Chinese warriors (among them, Andy Lau and Jing Tian, who features in a half-hearted romantic subplot). Willem Dafoe draws the shortest straw, however, as a prisoner on the wall gone stir crazy. You, too, may feel similarly bewildered after stumbling upon this big, stony hunk of nothing.


In the 11th century, a group of Europeans set out for China to discover how to make gunpowder. However, on arrival their claims to be on a trading mission are disbelieved and they are arrested and imprisoned by the Nameless Order within the Great Wall - just as it is about to be beset by giant, lizard-like monsters. As wave after wave of attacks and surprise tactics batter the Wall, Europeans and Chinese battle hoards of the alien creatures in a series of escalating conflicts leading to a final confrontation with the alien queen. Fantasy adventure, starring Matt Damon, Willem Dafoe and Tian Jing.

Cast & Crew

William Garin Matt Damon
Commander Lin Mei Jing Tian
Pero Tovar Pedro Pascal
General Shao Zhang Hanyu
Ballard Willem Dafoe
Strategist Wang Andy Lau
General Wu Eddie Peng
Peng Yong Han Lu
Director Zhang Yimou
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Other Information

Language: English, Mandarin +subtitlesColourTheatrical distributor: UniversalGuidance: Violence, swearing.Available on: DVD and Blu-rayReleased on: 17 Feb 2017