Part 1 (Asian release)Edit
In the summer of 208 AD, during the Later Han Dynasty, the imperial army led by Chancellor Cao Cao 曹操 embarks on a campaign to eliminate the southern warlords Sun Quan 孫權 and Liu Bei 劉備 in the name of eradicating rebels, with the reluctant approval of the Emperor Xian 献帝. Cao Cao's mighty army swiftly conquers the southern province of Jing and the Battle of Changban is ignited when Cao Cao's cavalry starts attacking the civilians who are on an exodus led by Liu Bei. During the battle, Liu's followers, including his sworn brothers Guan Yu 關羽 and Zhang Fei 張飛, give an excellent display of their legendary combat skills by holding off the enemy while buying time for the civilians to retreat. The warrior Zhao Yun 趙雲 fights bravely to rescue Liu Bei's entrapped family but only succeeds in rescuing Liu's infant son.
Following the battle, Liu Bei's chief advisor Zhuge Liang 諸葛亮 sets forth on a diplomatic mission to Eastern Wu to form an alliance between Liu Bei and Sun Quan to deal with Cao Cao's invasion. Sun Quan was initially in the midst of a dilemma of whether to surrender or resist, but his decision to resist Cao Cao hardens after Zhuge Liang's clever persuasion and a subsequent tiger hunt with his Grand Viceroy Zhou Yu 周瑜 and his sister Sun Shangxiang 孫夫人. Meanwhile, naval commanders Cai Mao 蔡瑁 and Zhang Yun 張允 from Jing Province pledge allegiance to Cao Cao and are received warmly by Cao, who places them in command of his navy.
After the hasty formation of the alliance, the forces of Liu Bei and Sun Quan call for a meeting to formulate a plan to counter Cao Cao's army that is advancing towards Red Cliff at godspeed from both land and water. The battle begins with Sun Shang Xiang leading a light cavalry unit to lure Cao Cao's vanguard army into the Eight Trigrams Formation laid down by the allied forces. Cao Cao's vanguard army is defeated by the allies but Cao shows no disappointment and proceeds to lead his main army to the riverbank directly opposite the allies' main camp where they laid camp. While the allies throw a banquet to celebrate their victory, Zhuge Liang thinks of a plan to send Sun Shang Xiang to infiltrate Cao Cao's camp on an espionage mission. The duo maintain contact by sending messages via a pigeon. The film ends with Zhou Yu lighting his miniaturised battleships on a map based on the battle formation, signifying his plans for defeating Cao Cao's navy.