This director is clearly not interested in rushing things. In terms of the actual story content, at least 40 minutes in total could be edited out with no loss. For instance, the five people who volunteer to join the resistance against the Japanese are shown being interviewed individually. They are all asked the same questions, and their answers are quite similar. Why show all five in a row ? Gawd.
Reviewer Score: 2
Despite the leisurely pace, there is quite a lot going on in the plot. Many years are packed into this story, and quite a wealth of historical detail, in which one unfamiliar with Chinese history could easily get lost. Still, I would honestly have preferred to watch an edited (i.e. shorter) version of this film.
HHH is apparently an artistic director, and his fans seem to argue that the pacing is all part of his style. Whatever the merits of this argument, it certainly doesn't make for riveting cinema. If you are at all the impatient type, keep close to the fast-forward button.