By Lisa Schwarzbaum
Updated November 19, 2009 at 05:00 AM EST

Flying arrows rain down like deadly needles. Soldiers wield their shields in formations worthy of a Busby Berkeley musical. A beautiful woman pours tea with intoxicating precision. There’s plenty of vivid action to fill two and a half hours in John Woo’s Chinese historical war epic Red Cliff, a rewarding change of terrain and era for the inventive Hong Kong director. The spectacular battle scenes are the engorged heart of the delirious adventure. But Woo also gets maximum romantic value from Tony Leung as a war hero married to Chiling Lin as the tea-pouring beauty. B+

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