Releasing on a single-disc Blu-ray package, the 2011 Chinese drama "White Vengeance" revolves around the tale of two sworn brothers in arms as they get pitted against each other during the fall of the Qin Dynasty. This sprawling historical offering helmed by Daniel Lee is set during a chaotic time when the battle for supremacy embroils two rebel leaders to overthrow the emperor. Through the political maneuvers and machinations of a king who needs to keep his own grasp on power, the two warrior friends fall for a betrayal plot that is primarily set during the Hongmen Banquet. In the middle of scheming acolytes, this crucial gathering sets off a series of events that would eventually culminate into an epic battle for a new dynasty.
This sumptuous piece often fills the screen with lavish sets and costumes and awe-inspiring backgrounds. But even if it is consistently gorgeous to look at, this visual feast suffers from critical storytelling flaws, mainly because of its convoluted details and weirdly structured flashbacks. Moreover, its dense tale attempts to incorporate some philosophical musings and supernatural allegories to the scenes, but the vague and confusing narrative flow ends up misleading the viewers with its topsy-turvy assortment of moral, political, and mystical elements.
The blistering action sequences are technically polished, except for some parts where shaky camera techniques seem to cover up the imperfections of certain CG components. The wide shots sometimes yield toward the softer side, but the mid-range and close-up shots typically pop up on frame. Both indoor and outdoor shots showcase impeccable details, saturated colors, strong contrast, and three-dimensional textures. Visual anomalies are practically nonexistent in the picture.
The package houses two Mandarin tracks, one with a lossless five-channel mix and another with a stereo mix. Generally, the film offers a nicely crafted audio material with fine segues between aggressive and mellow moments. Whether in spectacular battles, romantic encounters, or double-crossing acts, the track delivers strong fidelity and wide dynamic range. From thundering horse gallops to clashes of blades, both the low and high frequencies in audio effects are quite easy on the ears.
Most scenes make good use of the surrounds and sound components typically come from all channels. No detrimental audio anomalies can be heard anywhere in the presentation. However, the ADR parts occasionally encounter synch issues.
The disc hosts a few extras. It supplies the SD featurettes "Behind the Scenes" and "Interviews with Cast and Crew," as well as the film's HD trailers (original and international versions). English subtitles are also available in the disc.
"White Vengeance" packages itself as an intense political drama about power, corruption, brotherhood, and betrayal. The best parts are clearly its fight scenes, which really up the ante of this cinematic venture. However, the story falters with the way it mixes its adrenaline-filled battles with its political intrigue. With plenty of talking and a lot going on, there are just too many characters pulling at the plot strings.
Unfortunately, this film is quite uninvolving. With a running time of well over two hours, it turns out as an endurance test because of its structural and thematic shortcomings. It is not easy to connect with its characters and their situations. The labyrinthine plot leads to a cluttered storytelling where viewers simply watch the beautiful images dance across the screen, yet things remain dry and sluggish all the way.
- Arts & Entertainment