White Vengeance

Written and Directed by Daniel Lee starring Leon Lai and Anthony Wong. ‘White Vengeance’ is based on the Historical events ‘The Feast at Hong Gate’ and ‘The Chu-Han Contention’ that took place between 206-202 BC.But not knowing the Historical events won’t spoil it. Perhaps it might be more disappointing for those that do know the history of it since the story isn’t an accurate depiction but not many movies are and with characters displaying unrealistic martial arts action it’s best to just enjoy the movie’s story instead.

The story depicts the Power struggle between two warring states, Western Chu and Han and of their military strategists whom advise the two main characters, Liu Bang (Leon Lai) and Zhang Liang (Hanyu Zhang). Their conflict is further deepened by their shared affections for Yu Ji (Yifei Liu).Yuji is a character I don’t really care for and seems to be thrown in there to get women into the cinema to see this movie. It’s very much a man’s film and the love triangle doesn’t really go anywhere. It’s never developed it’s just slapped on for the ‘pretty’ factor. If the character is going to be so under developed what is the point.

The opening of the film is a bit confusing having flashbacks within flashbacks and it doesn’t seem to flash forward again after the second flash back or either it’s poor editing not to show that transition more clearly. Between all the machinations and plot twists instigated by each character you’ll need to keep attention till the very end. The action is mildly entertaining with fast paced fights and battles scenes. Some of the large scale army battles feature shaky cam movements making it hard to focus on the action properly. Probably making up for the budget. There is an overuse of the lens flare effect which has become the “in thing” with movies these days. This is even more distracting when it’s poorly used as an effect when a fake lens flare is placed into the middle of the screen in front of the characters face, I wondered “is this Dragon Ball with chi coming out of the guys face? or is is supposed to be a lens flare, in the middle of a guys face. The overly artistic filming style can be a bit off putting at times especially if it’s not in keeping with the style of the rest of the movie. The final scene of the movie is laughable showing two of the main characters meeting again in an overly romantic tone complete with falling cherry blossoms (wow how original!!!)  which is overly sentimental and adds nothing to the films story except to make it again look pretty. Why would I even care if it’s not central to the story or characters relationships. The most thrilling scenes in the film for me were not the large set action pieces but the game of Go which ramps up the tension and characterization and resonates as a symbolic theme of the movie until the very end. I’m sure there is deeper meaning to that overall game and I was missing something in cultural context and also due to translation of the movie with English subs.

While this movie isn’t as memorable as other big budget historical films it certainly is entertaining and worth watching, in no small part thanks to the acting of Leon Lai and Anthony (Awesome) Wong who give very touching performances that elevate this movie beyond the sub standard typical historical flick.

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