White Vengeance (2011) [Blu-Ray]
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In a time of tyranny and oppression, deception is everywhere. Insurgency swells among the people as two brothers battle for supremacy -and the love of a woman- during the fall of the Qin Dynasty. Liu Bang (Leon Lai, BODYGUARDS AND ASSASSINS) and Xiang Fu (Feng Shaofeng, XI YOU JI), once united but now locked in combat to rule the insurgent lands in a recreation of history s famed bloody battle for rule and dominion, known as the Feast at Hong Gate.
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The film was nominated for four Hong Kong Film Awards including "Best Art Direction" and "Best Costume & Make Up Design" and was released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Well Go USA.
"White Vengance" is a film that is loosely based on the Feast at Hong Gate and the fall of the Qin Dynasty.
"White Vengeance" is presented in 1080p High Definition (16:9 Widescreen). The film looks absolutely beautiful in HD. The use of CG to make a war look like thousands were taking part in the battle looked effective. The detail on closeups were amazing but it's the detail that comes with the costume and make-up including production design that is the winner of this film. Everything looks impressive, even the makeup, I would not have known that legendary HK star Leon Lai was playing the part of Liu Bang, until I read the front cover of the Blu-ray. But from a cool to warm presentation in HD, the film looks great, with some areas looking a bit soft at times. But considering that the film is primarily focused on close-ups and wide-angles, the film looks great, black levels are nice and deep and well-contrast.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
"White Vengeance" is presented in Mandarin DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. As one can expect from a film with a lot of action, there are good use of directional sound effects coming from the surround channels. From spears and arrows being shot from one side to the other, the sound of horses galloping on the battlefield to the sounds of the clanging swords. The lossless soundtrack for "White Vengeance" features awesome dynamic range, crystal clear dialogue and also wonderful use of the surround for the music!
Subtitles are in English.
"White Vengeance" comes with the following special features:
Behind the Scenes - (54:27) Behind-the-scenes of the rehearsals for the action sequences and the making of the film.
Cast and Crew Interviews - (36:03) Featuring cast and crew interviews.
Trailer - (1:40) The original theatrical trailer for "White Vengeance".
International Trailer - (1:06) The international trailer for "White Vengeance".
"White Vengeance" comes with a slipcover case.
"White Vengeance" is a beautiful film and possibly the best film so far from writer/director Danny Lee. From the look of the film thanks to its beautiful cinematography, wonderful costume design and make-up and also the effective and believable production design, the film looks and sounds quite impressive on Blu-ray!
But with so many Chinese historical films, how does "White Vengeance" compare to other epic films? For one, it's an interesting take on the "Feast at Hong Gate" and the battle between Xiang Yu and Liu Bang. Two leaders, two sworn brothers in battle but yet, two of the most powerful men of insurgent groups, it was destined that these two would become rivals and enemies. As both men wanted to become Lord Qin.
There approach to competing for this title is what is fascinating. Xiang Yu is a warrior, while Liu Bang is the pacifist who wants no one to die, but he knows that to protect the people, he must become the leader by doing things he may not want to do. This includes going against the man who one called him brother, Xiang Yu.
While many fans of this of Asian cinema will come to expect the fighting on the battlefield, the amount of corruption between warring factions but the film's strength lies in its portrayal of strategy.
Xiang Yu's use of the legendary strategist Fan Zeng and Liu Bang's use of the #2 strategist Zhang Liang. Both men are wonderful advisers, but as much as the film is a battle between both Xiang Yu and Liu Beng, it's also a battle between two master strategists, Fan Zheng and Zhang Liang.
And it's the strategic ways of how each counter each other that to me, was the most captivating part of the storyline. Both leaders depend on their advisers/strategists and it adds to the storyline of loyalty and betrayal. Does one's thirst for power exceed the trust one has in their close advisor's and the people close to them? You'll have to see how things play out between this war between two leaders.
Once again, this film is loosely based on the actual story of Xiang Yu and Liu Beng. For one, the actual relatonship between Xiang Yu and Yu Ji has been romanticized quite a bit for this film, but it in it's overall effectiveness of trying to include a romantic aspect to the film, it does work for "White Vengeance".
There were other characters that tried to showcase the loyalty of the men of Xiang Yu and Liu Beng. In one scene, during the "Feast at Hong Gate", we see Fan Kuai (portrayed by Jordan Chan) biting off his finger as a sign of his loyalty to Liu Bang. Also, characters did not live or die as was seen in the film, although the depiction of loyalty to their leader during a certain time seems to be factual.
But for those looking for a film for historical accuracy, many directors pursue a loose adaptation in order to make the movie more appealing to audiences. So, for those expecting an exact depiction of what took place during this era in Chinese history, you're not going to get an authentic adaptation.
As for the Blu-ray release, "White Vengeance" looks and sounds amazing. The cinematography, costume and set design, make-up are well-done and the use of the lossless soundtrack to capture the sounds of war was amazingly done. And you also get a few special features as well.
Overall, "White Vengeance" is a good Chinese historical film but definitely not one of the best. While the action and the use of strategy was fascinating, the storyline is a bit difficult to showcase something so complex when it focuses on four individuals. Yes, the film's primary characters are Xiang Yu and Liu Bang, but by the second half, the story then switches to Zhang Liang and Fan Zeng, the strategist a bit more and all of a sudden, we see this change between both primary characters that leave you feeling as if you missed a bit of character development after what had taken place at the "Feast at Hong Gate".
But other than that, I did enjoy "White Vengeance" but compared to other Chinese historical films or war epics, "White Vengeance" featured wonderful costume and set design, but for its story, it was good...just not great. And because of it's complexity of the timeline and focus on various characters, I found myself having to rewind and rewatch certain scenes because I was getting confused. But for those who love Chinese historical films with plenty of action, you'll more than likely enjoy "White Vengeance"!
The three kingdoms fought each other so extensively that a new dynasty, the Qin (Chin, as in China) have taken over, but their power at this stage is by no means assured. We have repression on the one side and a vision of freedom on the other. But is it really practical, or will men be men and obey their own wills, regardless of what god wants. That is the question posed in the main 'banquet' scene and resonates throughout the rest of the film.
The fight scenes, when we get them, are excellent, and the rest of the extensive supporting cast is like a who's who of Chinese cinema in the past 20 years if you can wrack your brain to recognize all of them.
Unfortunately, you will be wracking your brain for a lot of other reasons in this movie, so will not have the time. The Chinese game of 'Go' or weiqi features heavily in this film, enough to make your head spin. The catalogue of 'betrayals' does as well. I put that word in quotes because it is a case of guessing who did what to whom and why, or they did not really do it, but the person believed that they did. My final issue for not giving this 5 stars is that we don't get to see enough of each 'hero' in action at the start of the movie to be able to take sides all that easily, so at the end we just get a sense of waste and futility, so why did we spend over 2 hours watching the movie. The CGI ranges from great to clunky and the costumes and sets have all been seen before, but that makes a movie which could seem really 'foreign' look like an old friend. I enjoyed it, but I had to admit I needed to watch it through twice with stops and starts several times to make sure I did not miss anything in terms of subtitles or nuances between characters.
Starring the legendary Hong Kong actor Leon Lai as the crafty, covetous Liu Bang. Feng Shao Feng as Xiang Yu shows his dramatic range compared to his performances in his 2 hit TV drama series: "Prince of Lan Ling" and "Palace." As he demonstrated in the film "Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon, " Feng Shao Feng is well suited to the big screen.
I loved the story within a story in "White Vengeance": threading the main story of the battle between the two bitter rivals who were once former allies are the three intriguing sub-plots: how warring camps interpret the tenets of Sun Tzu's "Art of War"; the excellently staged and beautifully filmed Weiqi Game Challenge at the Feast of Hong Gate; and ultimately... enduring love. Must see!