White Vengeance (2011) Movie Review (Well Go Usa Blu-ray Review)
Director Daniel Lee
Starring Leon Lai, Zhang Hanyu, Feng Shaofeng, Anthony Wong
Available from Well Go Usa
Reviewer: Horrorphilia Jason
Like most of these Chinese war films, the story features tons of characters and the plot is quite complex. I’ll try to break it down in lay men’s terms. Two opposing Generals Xiang Yu and Liu Bang are both trying to take over the city of city of Xianyang because the temporary ruler King Chu, made a decree whoever does will become the new leader of China after the fall of the Qin Dynasty. The movie centers around an epic confrontation called Bangquet of Hongmen, which was an actual event, where the two Generals meet along with their personal advisers who battle it out in a game of Chinese chess. Also there are assassination attempts planned, people double crossing each other, a half assed love triangle, and some epic battles along the way.
Overall I dug this film even though I’ll admit I don’t really understand it all the way. There are tons of characters, some with little character development , and not a lot of backstory or explanation of what’s going on. As far as the story the weakest link was the whole love triangle angle. Xiang Yu gave Liu Bang his woman as a sign of good faith? That totally went over my head and the love connection was barely even touched upon. It had a long running time as it was but I think they could have made enough time to touch upon that. The acting especially by the two advisers , Zhang Hanyu and Anthony Wong was superb. I’m so used to seeing Anthony playing the parts of gangsters or cops, it was refreshing to see him play in a period piece. He was over the top in a few spots but by the end of the film I was digging his vibe.
The other aspect of the film I wasn’t completely down with was the decision to go with exaggerated fighting during the battles. For a movie that’s based on reality, I’m not sure why the decision to go for wirefu during some of the battles. I’m in the camp of either go fully fantasy fighting or totally based in reality, not a mixture of both. The large scale battles were cool and exciting despite some questionable cgi in parts, but I could have done without some of the flying warriors when they were struck by swords. It’s not like they were flying around, but there were definitely moments of unrealistic battle moments.
So far I’ve conveyed what I don’t like about the film, but overall I actually liked it quite a bit. The acting was fantastic and there were some intense moments during the whole confrontation at the Banquet, even though I didn’t get how the game was being played. Also the music was awesome, and the transfer was beautiful. There was a lot of double crossing, secret plots, loyalty tests, and other cool stuff that happens.
Before I talk myself down to a lower score the last thing I’ll mention is the ending was a little shaky. Once the final major act was done by one of the characters, the movie didn’t end there. They wrapped up the story speeding through the history of one of the characters in a few minutes time. The depth of the story almost required one super long movie or split into two films. Having said all of this, it’s still another Chinese epic film that’s well worth the time. The Well Go Usa blu-ray is fantastic like all of their films and there is also an interesting behind the scenes featurette that’s worth a watch.