White Vengeance

2011 [CHINESE]

Action / Drama / History

1
IMDb Rating 6.1 10 1914

Plot summary



December 05, 2022 at 01:03 AM

Director

Daniel Lee

Top cast

Yifei Liu as Yu Ji
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
1.24 GB
1280*536
Chinese 2.0
NR
24 fps
2 hr 17 min
P/S ...
2.55 GB
1920*804
Chinese 5.1
NR
24 fps
2 hr 17 min
P/S ...

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by DICK STEEL 8 / 10

A Nutshell Review: White Vengeance

Granted it did start off in rather disorientating factor, especially if one is not acutely aware of the historical event known as the Feast at Hong Gate between rivals Liu Bang (Leon Lai) and Xiang Yu (Feng Shaofeng), warlords who have been pitted against each other by the last emperor of Qin in order to seek the benefits from bickering amongst the insurgent ranks. Both are serving King Huai of Chu, but in essence both are seeking the highest post of the land, each with very different characteristics and styles that will determine the kind of rulership should either ascend the throne, with Xiang Yu seen as the more ruthless of the duo, and Liu Bang the more compassionate.

But of course this is not a history lesson, and while most of the proceedings at Hong Gate were fairly covered, Daniel Lee's input for artistic license and merit served the film well. The introduction had been jarring no thanks to flashbacks and rapid fire introductions to a multitude of historical and fictitious characters that will serve to confuse the clueless (like myself initially), but do hang in there as soon after you'll start to see past all the bearded men, their ranks and their loyalties in each faction of the rivalry and center upon the characters who matter. It is the buildup to the events at Hong Gate, and the Hong Gate proceedings itself which is truly impressive, that White Vengeance truly shifted into top gear, and never relented in its pacing all the way to a gripping finale full of twists and turns, conflict and schemes,

Like the game of choice in Go / Weiqi, White Vengeance played out like a measured chess game, with each side pondering and second guessing the opponent's move, and plotting its own counter-strategy way in advance. The strengths of the story lay in its effortless balance between brawn and brain, with action left to the likes of Andy On, who played Han Xin, a general who jumped ship and swap loyalties for appreciation, and even Jordan Chan himself to bring along that rebellious streak always out to look for a good fight. But the spotlight was definitely on Anthony Wong as Xiang Yu's counselor Fan Zeng and his rival Zhang Lian, played by the very charismatic Zhang Hanyu, serving on the side of Liu Bang.

Both men inevitably stole the show for their brainy schemes to allow their respective masters to gain a leg up against the opponent, and the shifting advantages made this film very much engaging to sit through, culminating in their initial face to face meeting at the iconic Hong Gate which is filled with treachery, betrayal, and a simultaneous five game of Go that serves as the highlight. And this came pretty early in the film as well, in fact setting the stage for more plotting outside of this one time event, that will serve as the catalyst for an elaborate, extrapolated scheme.

Daniel Lee seemed adamant this time round in balancing action with plot, and has his craftsmen to thank for in setting up gorgeous looking interior sets with CG landscapes, forts and castles that no longer exist, that didn't look as fake as those found in his earlier two films. Cinematography by Tony Cheung was also beautiful, especially with its shadow and light play and balance, allowing the film to stand out as one of the more gorgeous looking films to capture the action on screen, and the quieter moments that Lee's story called for when exploring options, and its characters.

Between the two leads who play the rivals Xiang Yu and Liu Bang, Feng Shaofeng seemed to have a lot more spectrum in showing Xiang Yu's obsessive and ruthless side, as compared to the Leon Lai, whose singular expression served him well in this role of Liu Bang of having his truest innermost thoughts held extremely close to his chest, nuanced in a way that will make you sit up and evaluate just who amongst the lot is the master schemer. And then there's Anthony Wong versus Zhang Hanyu, veterans in their respective film markets playing opposing strategists, chewing up the scenery with their sheer screen presence, although the latter actor did edge out on screen charisma thanks to a longer screen time that allowed audiences to understand a bit more about Zhang Liang, as compared to Wong's portrayal of Fan Zeng who seemed more like an eccentric shaman.

If there's a weak link in the film, it's the unfortunate introduction of Liu Yifei's character Yu Ji, as the lover of Xiang Yu who should also have some sort of romantic dalliance with Liu Bang to further their rivalry, but this was not quite to be since it wasn't fleshed out in detail. It could have brought the hatred between the men to another more personal level but that was not to be, instead the Yu Ji arc can be totally omitted, and not serve to diminish the story any one bit. I suppose Liu Yifei is included as a need to balance the level of testosterone in the film.

But the payload of the film, even if you've been entertained by the bloodbath and battle of wits on screen, came in the final act that truly sealed this as a masterpiece effort from Daniel Lee. It hammers home points about the wielding of power and how man's pursuit of that absolute leads to natural paranoia as seen in so many madmen dictators, that the mantra of trusting no one rings home, giving rise to regrets and remorsefulness in not having done better than to succumb to the trappings that power brings about, with what price ambition. And the tying up of some loose ends, with nuances now magnified, served to unmask true intentions, and that sometimes one can never know the truth about someone, until perhaps it's a little too late.

Reviewed by paul_haakonsen 8 / 10

Amazing...

"White Vengeance" (aka "Hong men yan chuan qi") is right up alongside with epic movies such as "Hero" and "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon", and it is a shame that it didn't get as much attention as they did. "White Vengeance" is a grand epic and it completely took me by surprise.

The story, simply put, is about two brothers who become pitted against each other in a battle for rulership. There are too many subplots in the movie to fully do it justice with a synopsis. It has to be seen firsthand on the screen.

There is just so much detail in the movie, not only in the storyline, but also in the costumes, sets and props. It is simply overwhelmingly breathtaking.

I was impressed with the cast, and they had some big Hong Kong names on the cast list. Anthony Wong, Leon Lai, Jordan Chan and Andy On. I have never seen Jordan Chan in an epic movie, but he really held his own and did a great job. Yifei Liu also did an amazing job with her role.

"White Vengeance" was captivating and interesting from the very beginning and up to the very end. So you will not really be noticing that the movie actually runs for more than two hours.

This is definitely a MUST watch if you enjoy Asian epic movies.

Reviewed by dvc5159 6 / 10

The lesser of two evils

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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