White Vengeance tells the story of two brothers contending for supremacy during the fall of the Qin Dynasty, which ruled Imperial China from 221 to 206 BC. As rebels rose, the nation fell ...
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White Vengeance tells the story of two brothers contending for supremacy during the fall of the Qin Dynasty, which ruled Imperial China from 221 to 206 BC. As rebels rose, the nation fell into chaos. Liu Bang (Leon Lai) and Xiang Yu (Feng Shaofeng), became leaders of the rebellious army, and also became sworn brothers in battle. Xiang Yu and Liu Bang are close friends who both serve King Huai of Chu. King Huai uses a plot, saying that whoever can subvert the Qin kingdom in Guanzhong would be the Lord Qin, in order to benefit from the competition between Xiang Yu and Liu Bang. Xiang Yu is over-confident. He fights against the main force of Qin army, and entrusts Liu Bang with Yu Ji (Liu Yifei), the woman he loves. Liu Bang expresses his love to Yu Ji and takes the chance to invade Guanzhong first when most of Qin army is outside fighting against Xiang Yu's army. Xiang Yu is furious & betrayed when he found it. Xiang planned to kill Liu at a banquet held in Hong Men, during which Zhang ...Written by
The game that plays and important role in the movie is called 'weiqi' by the characters and Zhang Liang explains at the banquet that to play blindfolded one has to remember the current state of the each of the 361 (19x19) possible positions. This however, refers to the version of the game made popular several centuries later. The movie is set in late 3rd century BC, when the game was called 'yi' and was played on 17x17 board. See more »
Here's a swordplay film that takes its time developing its story and characters. "White Vengeance" is an elaborate, sumptuous, and often lavish epic film, ambitiously crafted by Daniel Lee ("Black Mask"). In the heart of the frantic battle sequences lies a thriller that thrills by its characters planning and trying to outwit, manipulate, and defeat one another.
Leon Lai and Feng Shao-Feng portray the two scheming leads, in an absorbing character study of the two. I was at a loss as to who was actually tyrannical or valiant. While both actors are good in their roles, Lai dominates the show with his subtle and effective performance, showing calm and reserve even at dangerous times. Zhang Hanyu and veteran Anthony Wong portray advisers to the two leads, with Hanyu showing a sombre aura despite looking wise; Wong borders on over-acting during the Banquet scene but improves greatly in his scenes after that.
From the mysterious opening to its melancholic ending, its characters that are full of wit and brains, this film never lets up on the complexity of the plot. I love films which take their time developing their key characters (bonus points if said characters are elaborate schemers) so I was pleasantly surprised that this film had done so, in a length of just under two and a half hours. Slow-paced? Maybe. Boring? Absolutely not. It is the characterization and elaborate scheming that makes it so exciting to watch; as time progresses the characters' motives become more and more entangled, and morals are questioned during the melancholic final 30 minutes of the movie, which elevate this epic film from good to near-great. Readers of Sun Tzu's "The Art of War" may want to give this one a watch, here is a film which blends strategy with motive very effectively, to an extent where those traits are blurred.
However, like many swordplay films before, this one features the usual - elaborate and colorful costumes and production design, crisp cinematography, and an atmospheric music score to bring it home. "White Vengeance" somewhat strays from the music score part; it doesn't sound like the typical Chinese swordplay film, it sounds much more haunting than melodramatic. The cinematography, however is superb and will remind film buffs of similar shots in previous English epic films such as "Braveheart" or "The Lord of the Rings".
For all the stuff it got right, I am willing pass over the fact that some of the CG effects look awful and unnecessary, and that some of the stunts (including the battle at the Banquet) are too elaborate for its kind (but not reaching Yuen Woo-Ping levels).
All is well with the Chinese swordplay film. Lee has proudly claimed this film as the best movie he's made in his career. Not having seen all of his other films, I can't say, but he certainly has made a very good one.
Overall rating: 78/100
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