Guan Yu has 140 Wei spearmen exactly where he wants them

So on Easter we had a really fun meetup at my place with about a dozen people: We celebrated the Resurrection by watching a ruthless tyrant* get his shit smashed to bits on the Yangtze.

* According to the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, which was written by the descendants of Shu/Liu Bei’s camp. Otherwise, he was just a ruthless yet charismatic, skilled, and even brilliant statesman, strategist and warlord just trying to bring a country together.

So anyway, we watched it on Blu-Ray, both parts, with a little hour intermission in the middle. It was flat-out awesome, a great movie overall in tone, scene and definitely action. There were roars of “Woah!” and applause, usually when Guan Yu or Zhao Yun stepped into the scene.

I spent years in Japan, and in Japan the Tale of the Three Kingdoms (and the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, the classic Chinese fictionalized account of the war; sort of the Braveheart job done to post-Qin China) over in China and Japan (possibly Korea as well?) is like the tales of King Arthur over here, only moreso. Pretty much everyone in Japan knows the major players by name if not by deed.

Plus, if you’ve played any of the Koei war sims like Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Kessen, or the Dynsasy Warrios/Sangoku Musou series, you know who the major players are. If nothing else, you’re like “Oh yeah, Zhuge Liang is the one who fires lightning out of his feather-fan, Sun Shangxiang is the one who flies around with these giant ring-weapons, and Gan Ning is the dude with all the tattoos and the giant ringed broadsword!” Despite the mythic powers they’re given in video games, at least having some grounding in the games helps you sort out who is what.

Anyway, for the big day I went ahead and pulled a bunch of pics off of the awesome website (the English Red Cliff site is a pile of crap in comparison; it just talks about the movie, while the Japanese and Chinese sites give history, relationship maps, etc). Here it is, I actually did some research on Wikipedia, Three Kingdoms Wiki, and other places. I summarized the major generals and leaders that appear in the movie into 1-2 sentences each. Folks at the party said it helped them, so here you go. The only change I made to the original was that I removed Huang Zhong and replaced him with Lu Su: Even though Huang Zhong has a big role in the battle (he’s the one that sets fire to the ships historically), he appears far less in the movie than I expected of Lu Su.

Download It Here. It’s not super-pretty, but I did it in Word in about 30 minutes the night before watching the movie. Hopefully it will help other people who didn’t grow up in Asia or come under the influence of the tale still enjoy the movie that much more, with just a touch of inside/deeper knowledge of the events and people of the Red Cliff battle.