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. The film is based on events in the Chu–Han Contention period of Chinese history. The film’s Chinese title is a reference to the Feast at Hong Gate, one of the highlights of that era.
The intelligence of Zhang Liang was the highlight of this movie where they continuously offered tactics advising their respective master Liu Bang and Xiang Yu. We need stories like these which remind us how China’s troubled past could have been so vicious and complicated. The dialogue has to be closely followed as this is one movie about two brilliant strategist and military advisors, who have to watch their own backs as well as the rivalry they face with one another. Therefore the skillful leader subdues the enemy’s troops without any fighting; he captures their cities without laying siege to them; he overthrows their kingdom without lengthy operations in the field. But of course this is not a history lesson, thus the highest form of generalship is to balk the enemy’s plans; the next best is to prevent the junction of the enemy’s forces.
Loved how the war scenes were shot from an aerial view showing the landscape as the cinematographer did a good job capturing the surroundings. 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. The director’s 2010 effort, 14 Blades, should be a good implication of what to expect. Lee has proudly claimed this film as the best movie he’s made in his career. Despite taking a notable depart from the history it is based on, White Vengeance is pretty much on par with John Woo’s Red Cliff.
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. This film seems to hit all the right notes as mind games, military strategies and counter strategies involving armies, the fate of their generals and one power crazed emperor make this film as watchable as can be. 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. This film is one that will scoop up plenty of awards and go on to be one of the great films based on war.