Opening in limited release is John Woo's epic Red Cliff , the most expensive Chinese film ever made and featuring -- literally -- a cast of thousands. The American release runs 2 1/2 hours, about half the length of the movie when it was originally released in China earlier this year (not including an intermission). Critics appear impressed with the grandeur of the production; less so with its script. As Amy Biancolli writes in the San Francisco Chronicle "The movie doesn't handle nuance too well, and the dialogue spins pretty frequently into unmitigated corniness. But anyone who enjoys stylized hyper-violence should be enthralled by this long, sweeping, murderously vivid dramatization of ancient Chinese warfare, circa A.D. 208." Indeed, Joe Morgenstern in the Wall Street Journal comments, "The immensity encompasses such variety, subtlety and intimacy that you may find yourself yearning for more." The critics also bestow high praise on the actors, in particular Tony Leung; several of them use the term "impressive" to describe his performance. But Mike Hale in the New York Times seems less than overwhelmed by the movie's epic scale. " Red Cliff, while handsome and intelligent and perfectly easy to sit through," he writes, "never really approaches the visceral tug of Mr. Woo's Hong Kong hits." Undoubtedly, the entire five-hour original will be available on DVD in the months ahead, but John Anderson in the Washington Post comments. "There should be a law against seeing this thing anywhere but in a theater. It's a big ol' movie, the way Lawrence of Arabia was a big ol' movie."