Thursday, October 3, 2019

Review: The Climbers

Release date: September 30, 2019
Running time: 125 minutes
Starring: Jing Wu, Ziyi Zhang, Boran Jing 

The Climbers dramatically tells the story of an expedition team of Chinese climbers that attempt to climb Mount Everest for a second time, after the world did not believe their first summit due the lack of photographic proof.  The second summit attempt happens 15 years later and dramatically pulls the surviving members of the original team together to train the next generation of Chinese mountaineers to attempt this feat.  

The climbers should not be viewed as a documentary.  It appears to be based on a true story, but with a ton of additional drama and unnecessary action scenes.  Imagine if Cliffhanger was directed by a Chinese martial arts filmmaker (for intense, slow motion jump scenes and nimble acrobatic moves) and you'll have a sense of what this movie is like.  It definitely includes some pretty breathtaking scenery (though some of it is heavy on the CG), but this is kind of blunted when a character slow motion dodges to avoid an avalanche.  And the cast is an enjoyable cast, led by Jing Wu as the experienced, cool headed climbing veteran imparting his knowledge and experience.  The rest of the cast is like able but some of the characters backstories are given little screen time.

However, the film definitely overly dramatizes an amazing historical feat.  Each summit attempt is met with multiple avalanches, heavy heavy winds, and some dramatic moment to save the team (or to sacrifice oneself for the greater nation).  It feels like a summer blockbuster that is loosely based on a real life event.  And it also feels like a piece of propaganda at times.  The event and effort by these Chinese mountaineers is no doubt a source of much national pride; but the dialogue feels a little too over the top and many of the actions seem to be for the good of China despite very rooted self interests. 

The Climbers is a dramatic action film based on an amazing historical feat.  It has a strong cast but sways a little too far into the historical drama; turning this story from an interesting adventure into a big budget action movie.

Rent it

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