THE CLIMBERS is a cinematic retelling of the first Chinese climbers to summit Mount Everest – the first ever to do so from the North Ridge. Well-known as the most challenging side of the mountain, the perilous journey takes its toll on the mountaineers, physically and mentally, forcing them to make life or death decisions at every turn. Based on a true story from award winning director Daniel Lee (Three Kingdoms, 14 Blades), featuring China’s biggest stars Wu Jing (Wandering Earth, Wolf Warrior 2) and Zhang Ziyi (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Memoirs of a Geisha, The Grandmaster), and with a special guest appearance from superstar Jackie Chan.
What We Thought:
The Climbers is based on a true story that I wasn’t familiar with. As an American we aren’t taught about other countries’ accomplishments especially if they are better than ours. I knew people climbed Mt. Everest, but couldn’t tell you when or how. This is about a Chinese expedition that climbed the infamous mountain from a different side in order to claim the better victory.
It starts out with a sort of failed attempt in the 1960s. They made it, but lost the camera and had no proof they reached the summit. It then gets into the 1970s and a new expedition to not only get proof they made it but also to truly say how tall the mountain is.
I like man vs. nature stories and Everest is the peak (pun intended) of nature. Even though it relies heavily on CGI effects (which just aren’t that great), the film is interesting in how the Chinese government pushed this second trip so they could stake claim to being the best. Not having proof from the first time, the Chinese felt shame that their people said it happened, but couldn’t prove it.
In order to “defeat” nature, they trained with huge groups of people. Different people had different jobs on different aspects of the mountain. Only a handful of men would actually reach the top, but it took dozens of men and women to relay weather updates, equipment, help with medical problems to accomplish this journey. It was about national pride and each person had a job to do.
The Climbers has some questionable effects, but that can be said for a lot of these Asian films. Watch any action movie China puts out and it’s the same type of over-the-top CGI which I’m just not a fan of. Obviously you can’t shoot this movie for real without someone dying so I understand why they go with the CG route. The story is very pro-Chinese and comes across as a bit of propaganda to an outsider, but I can respect their accomplishment. A lot of these films push the “We are Chinese, we are the best, we can do anything” narrative and if you ignore that and just watch the film as a film you can have fun with it.