Daniel Lee has crafted another finely tuned Wuxia film after his film with Donnie Yen ,the 14 Blades. Daniel Lee is also the director of a film which I regard as one of the greats (but probably very few have seen) ,it's his 2003 film ''Star Runner with Vanness Wu and Andy On ,one that all should track down in my opinion.
Now if your looking for a quick of Wuxia action with loads of battles ,then maybe White Vengeance is not for you, but what we have here is a film more akin to Zhang Yimou's Hero with Jet Li then the say Magnificent Trio.
The film follows the events of the Chu Han Contention period of Chinese History and more to point the Great Feast at Hong Gate .
It evolves around two Rebellious Military leaders ( Liu Bang and Xiang Yu) who serve the King Hua of Chu. A man who's goal is to overthrow the Qin Dynasty . He uses a plot that pits the two Military leaders against each-other even though they are sworn brothers..He says who ever can overthrow the Qin Kingdom in Gunazhong will be Lord of Qin.
Being brothers the two decide that Xiang Yu will head for Guanzhong and that Liu Bang will escort lady Yu Ji to safety and the two will unite afterwards. Yu Ji agrees to this gracefully ,trusting Liu Bang as he had previously helped Xiang Yu protect her .
But when on their travels Yu Ji realizes that Liu Bang has gone forward to Guanzhong ,it all becomes apparent that not is as it seems.
With his army Liu Bang seizes the city and convinces the current lord to concede and mainly with out loss of lives in any grand manner.
When Xiang Yu hears of this his feelings for his friend Liu Bang turn to rage ,being that Xiang Yu controls a larger army he vows to go on to Guanzhong and overthrow his friend. But talks with a old friend and military strategist Fan Zeng (Anthony Wong) they plot a plan to make Liu Bang the scapegoat in a cunning plan of betrayal.
Now in Guanzhong Liu Bang has been approached by another famous strategist by the name of Zhang Liang ( Hanyu Zhang) he is impressed by Liu Bangs approach to the city ,but Liu is fearful of Xiang Yu's approach to the matter ,he says when Xiang Yu arrives he will turn over the seall of the city to him ,saying he had just got their first and took the city in his name.
But Zhang Liang convinces Liu to hold fast ,saying that Xiang Yu is not as compassionate as he and that many civilians will be killed if Xiang and his men enter the city.
It;s from this that the meeting of Hong Gate takes place, we are also introduced to Han Xing ,a former army member of Xiang,he's not impressed by his ways and wants some sort of revenge.
To gain his help ,Liu Bang promises Han Xing that he will be General Han Xing of Lord Qin .
Now when time approaches for the Hong gate meeting Liu and his men arrive and relinquish their weapons. Inside Xiang has the upper hand surrounded by his men and a armoury of weapons. Our two strategists Fan Zeng and Zhang Liang enter into a dual of Weiqi (ancient Chess) ,the outcome of five rounds would determine who is to rule Guanzhong.
But once again all is not as it seems , Zhang Liang must play the game from a distance giving instruction to one of Liu's followers ''Fan Kuai''. Like wise Fan Zeng has someone moving the pieces for him but Fan Zeng has been blind for years and plays the game as such all the time.
It looks like Zhang has his work cut out , it gets even worse when we discover that Liu and Zhang had plotted to kill Fan Zeng and that Xiang had captured the assassin and brings him out at the feast .
Like wise Xiang plot to frame Liu for the death of King Hua of Chu goes wrong when Zhang Liang discovers the plot from Han Xing and they act to save the King.
Now if you think I hav given to much away here for your enjoyment of the film , I really have only touched on the surface of the story, this really is Political intrigue at it's best.
As far as the action goes the battles that do ensue are bloody and shot well giving a feel of panic and out of control pandemonium . It looks like they had a lot of numbers making up the opposing armies ,either that or there is some very good effects at work, and even when the effects where used they seem to blend in flawlessly in most cases . It became only apparent when the long shots of thousands of soldiers from up in the sky where shot, these has to be special effects,CGI or whatever.
Leon Lai as Liu Bang gave a sterling performance ,he definitely should get more roles like this, I always thought he stole the show in ''Bodyguards and Assassins''.
Feng Shaofeng as Xiang Yu was so great ,what's amazing his he is so young and he portrays this warrior with such passion and of course Andy On as Han Xing always is a joy to watch as leaps and jumps about ,a true artist with so much to give and one of our Former Banner Stars.
As with all the cast from Anthony Wong to Wu Ma ( in small cameo) gave their best. But top marks must go to Daniel Lee for Directing a story with so much intrigue with a plot that will have you switching allegiance in your own mind as to who you route for.
Even in the end your still be thinking did I like this guy or what ,maybe he was good or maybe?
In the end it's up to you to discover the real instigator in this story and when you find out you may just kick yourself.
Score out of Ten = A Intriguing Mind Bending 9
Review Date : 06-07-12
Reviewer : Sertes Nake