Genre: Action/ Drama Director: Daniel Lee Cast: Leon Lai, Feng Shaofeng, Crystal Liu Yifei, Zhang Hanyu, Anthony Wong, Jordan Chan, Andy On RunTime: 2 hrs 15 mins Released By: Encore Films and Golden Village Rating: PG13 (Some Violence) Official Website: www encorefilms.com/whitevengeance
Opening Day:1 December 2011
Synopsis: 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 Liang (Zhang Hanyu), the mastermind of Liu Bang, and Fan Zeng (Anthony Wong), the mastermind of Xiang Yu, have a direct confrontation.
But who will emerge as the winner from this epic battle and survive to claim their path to the crown?
White Vengeance aka Hong Men Yen Chuan Qi is the latest effort from Daniel Lee, the director of Three Kingdoms: Resurrection of the Dragon and 14 Blades. As the name suggests, the movie is built on one of the most iconic historical events that follows the fall of the Qin dynasty, the Feast at Hong Gate. The story is basically about the power struggle between a pair of sworn brothers, Xiang Yu (Feng Shaofeng) and Liu Bang (Leon Lai). Their battle eventually boils down to the intellects, and not just the brawn.
With the rich historical backing, the story begins by giving a lengthy introduction of the intricate bond between Xiang and Liu from a third person’s point of view. For viewers who are not so well acquainted with Chinese history, this is probably an effort directed at you such that you could understand and appreciate how the story continues to unfold. Thankfully, the action eventually comes in before the whole story telling gets tiresome. That being said, there wasn’t any particularly impressive sword play, or alluring battle scenes, as much of the emphasis was placed fixing up the events that precedes the feast, and the feast itself.
The feast is undeniably the turning point, and arguably the climax of the movie. It is one that led many repercussions and events that follow. The mind games, deceptions and the intense mood surrounding Xiang and Liu and their respective comrades were effectively delivered and sustained by the strong cast.
In particular, Liu’s strategist, Zhang Liang (Zhang Hanyu) probably stole the show. His acting gave flesh to the role and the character development was one that was really outstanding. The sophistication and cleverness of Zhang that manifests as he faces the challenges is done to all rightness. Comparatively, the supposed main characters, Xiang and Liu, pale in comparison. They were either expressionless or have a sudden outburst of emotions, failing to really develop the character. And as of all historical movies of the like, there must be a beauty that mesmerizes all, and a rash and fidgety little brother that acts in extreme ways. These roles are played by Liu Yifei and Jordan Chan respectively. Neither of them was noteworthy or outstanding, probably because their roles seem to lose significance in the movie anyway.
After the approximately two and a half hour movie, you might be thinking to yourself, ‘So what?’ The major drawback of the movie is probably the lack of focus. Although Xiang and Yu is the cause of the whole event and obviously the main characters, but their roles seem lesser than what it should be. This is clearly an unconventional take on the historical event. ‘Going down the rabbit hole?’ some may ask. Well, it’s up to you to judge. Overall, there is no universal appeal that could work really well. White Vengeance is probably a great improvement from Daniel Lee’s previous films, but not one that could easily top the ticket box office.
(Unless you’re a Chinese history fanatic, this movie will probably make little sense to you)