White Vengeance (Blu-ray) (2011)

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Released 10-Oct-2012

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Historical Epic None
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2011
Running Time 137:32
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Daniel Lee
Studio
Distributor
Icon Entertainment Starring Shaofeng Feng
Leon Lai
Hanyu Zhang
Anthony Wong Chau-Sang
Yifei Liu
Jordan Chan
Andy On
Qing Xiu
Haifeng Ding
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music Henry Lai


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Chinese DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English (Burned In) Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     Daniel Lee is a Writer/Director and Production Designer from Hong Kong. He has been in the industry for some time, directing Jet Li's Black Mask back in 1996. His last three films have firmly established him in the Chinese historical action epic genre with Three Kingdoms , 14 Blades & now this latest film White Vengeance.

This film tells the story of a famous series of events during the last days of the Qin Dynasty before the Han Dynasty took over, around 206 BC. Rebel armies are quickly capturing the last of the Qin cities, led by two famous generals, Xiang Yu (Shaofeng Feng) and Liu Bang (Leon Lai). They have fought together for many years and act like brothers. The King they have pledged allegiance to decrees that whichever of them takes the Qin capital first will become the Lord of Qin. Xiang Yu asks Liu Bang to take his woman, Yuji (Yifei Liu) back to her home. He agrees but instead takes another route to the capital of Qin, capturing the city by words rather than violence. Of course, Xiang Yu is not happy with this and the two former brothers now face each other in battle. They are both advised by excellent military strategists, Xiang by Fan Zeng (Anthony Wong Chau-Sang), a crafty old man and Liu by Zhang Liang (Hansu Zhang) a much younger man. Using a variety of strategies they attempt to get the upper hand, including a famous historical meeting called the Feast at Hong Gate. It is my understanding that the film is not overly true to the history involved utilising major characters and situations but not really sticking to the established facts.

     There is a lot to like about this film, which I will get to shortly, however it suffers from one major flaw, the storytelling is very confusing and this makes the film hard to understand as it jumps between different situations without really introducing the characters properly. This problem is exacerbated by flaws in the subtitles which I will cover in the video section below. Nearly every other aspect of this film is of very high quality including the magnificent cinematography, excellent acting, masterful battle sequences and wonderful score by Henry Lai. The problems with the storytelling are a real shame as the basis of the story is very interesting indeed, combining military action with strategy and the intrigues between the two camps, along with the obligatory doomed romance. There are some wonderful visuals on display especially the battle vistas which give you a real sense of the layout of the opposing forces and how they are deployed. Daniel Lee the director really needs to have a stern word with Daniel Lee the writer about how to make his films easier to understand.

     Unfortunately, this is a technical well-made film which tells an interesting story quite badly. It is worthwhile for genre fans, however, those new to Chinese historical action epics should look elsewhere first like Red Cliff or Hero.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     The video quality is excellent except for the subtitles.

     The feature is presented in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio which is the original aspect ratio. It is 1080p encoded using AVC.

     The picture is very sharp and clear throughout with excellent levels of detail. Colour is excellent, not seeming to have as much colour grading as other films of this ilk. Shadow detail was excellent.

     There are no artefacts of note.

     English subtitles are burned into the picture. They are clear and easy to read, however, they seem to be a literal word for word translation which results in grammatical problems and other errors. This means you spend longer than you would normally need to trying to work out what the character is saying. This is then made worse at times by long double rows of subtitles which flash by very quickly. Considering the difficulties in understanding the story anyway, this makes the situation even worse.

     There are no obvious layer changes during playback.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     The audio quality is excellent.

     This disc contains a Chinese (I presume Mandarin) DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack.

     Dialogue seemed clear and easy to understand.

     The score by Henry Lai is excellent with drums and Chinese instruments driving the action and the quieter moments. Worth price of entry alone, especially on your surround sound system.

     The surround speakers are used extensively for action scenes, battles, horses galloping, drums, the fantastic music and much more. Great stuff.

     The subwoofer is also used extensively for the battle scenes and the music.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     No real extras.

Menu

     The menu included music & scenes from the film and allowed for scene selection.

Trailers

     For other films

Sound Check

     For 5.1 and 7.1 systems

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The local Blu-ray lacks the extras available on the Region A version which run for 90 minutes and include a making of and interviews. Also Region A reviews mention removable subtitles and do not mention the issues I discussed above, whereas Region B reviews do. Region A wins.

Summary

    A visually impressive film which tells an interesting story very badly.

    The video quality is excellent except for the subtitles.

    The audio quality is excellent.

    There are no film related extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Review Equipment
DVDSONY BDP-S760 Blu-ray, using HDMI output
DisplaySharp LC52LE820X Quattron 52" Full HD LED-LCD TV . Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt into amplifier. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationMarantz SR5005
SpeakersMonitor Audio Bronze 2 (Front), Bronze Centre & Bronze FX (Rears) + Sony SAW2500M Subwoofer

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