White Vengeance (2011)


Two rebellious generals unite to overthrow the emperor but a rift opens between them when deciding who should rule in his stead.

Like Red Cliff, White Vengeance is a Chinese historical epic based around the battle of wits between two competing armies and their tacticians. While John Woo’s film centred around the characters and their motivations, this film instead chooses ham-fisted gaming analogies to the point where the big centrepiece of the film is actually a game of speed chess set to dramatic music and swirling wobbly-cam to make it look dramatic and exciting to any viewer with the attention span of an invertebrate.

That’s not to say that White Vengeance is without merit; the visuals are full of the requisite high quality costume design, battles of epic scale and well orchestrated sword play. Unfortunately what punctuates them is just a lot of clumsy exposition barked between the lead characters alongside cod philosophy and confusing plotting that makes it difficult to follow who is on whose side and why for the majority of the time. Even the romance with the politely pretty and demure heroine seems like a halfhearted afterthought.

There is an interesting message about how power corrupts at the very end but it’s too little too late to salvage the messy, unconvincing plot leaving the whole thing with the feel of a box-ticking “state sanctioned” movie which is inferior in every way to Red Cliff.



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