Directed and written by Daniel Lee (Black Mask, Three Kingdoms: Resurrection of the Dagon), White Vengeance is a sprawling epic. It is a visual feast that must have been a joy for the director of photography, Tony Cheung. However, for as pretty as it looks and how expertly staged the action is, despite it being based on actual Chinese history, I found the movie to be more than a little on the dry side and awfully difficult to connect with. Clocking in at well over two hours, it became a bit of an endurance test.
Perhaps I am being a little harsh. I do not mean to imply it is a bad movie; it really isn't. I suspect some of my perceived shortcomings in the execution may be partially due to my lack of knowledge concerning China's storied history. It is likely if I had a better working knowledge of Chinese history, I would have gotten more out of the film and been able to be more involved in its characters.
White Vengeance tells the story of the Hongmen Banquet, a pivotal event in the tumultuous time when the Qin Dynasty fell. Xiang Yu (Shaofeng Feng) and Liu Bang (Leon Lai) are generals in the growing insurgent army that formed to overthrow Emperor Qin. They worked in the service of King Huai of Chu, who realized his time on the throne was short and put a plan in place that would pit Xiang Yu and Liu Bang against each other.
King Huai told the men that whoever takes control of Xiangyang City could claim ownership of the Imperial Seal and the throne. This intrigues Xiang Yu who charges Liu Bang with protecting his love, Yu Ji (Yifei Liu), and returning her home in order to protect her for the violent battle that was to come. Problems arise when Liu Bang, at the urgings of his loyal men, instead takes control of the city while Xiang Yu is still occupied fighting the bulk of the Qin army outside Xiangyang.