WHITE DRAGON (2004-HK)
review by Neo
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pretty white dragon!
Okay, so what review am I going to review first, well it has to be The White Dragon, cos I haven't seen the other one yet, probably see it tomorrow. As I promised before I go off to Neverland, I will review 2, so let's begin with the new unconventional pairing of two better actor and actresses in HK cinema - Francis Ng and rising Best Actress - Cecilia Cheung. Directed by Wilson Yip is a movie that I will proclaim as absolutely uneven and while he does handles his camera shots extremely adequately, the pacing is slightly uneven. However, that's not to say it is a shit movie, as it is now, with polish production values, a period/modern pastiche setting - The White Dragon, is a movie that can be called, a boring and absolutely boring beginning and even to the extent of silliness to redeem at the hour mark to a much better movie. Then again, the sudden redeeming, seems to me as though director has fallen asleep at the beginning and suddenly realise it and picked it up from there.
So what's the movie all about, and as usual I won't bother writing the plot but simply do what I like actually makes my job easier - copy from official synopsis: During Ming Dynasty, a beautiful lady Hei-fung is in love with the Prince II. Her lifetime goal is to marry to the Prince. In her school, a cleaner finds out that a blind man wants to kill the principal but is being hurt by the killer. The cleaner, who thinks she is dying, teaches Hei-fung all her martial arts. However, that causes abscesses to grow on her body. The solution is to help others and perform good deeds. With a kind heart, her body will automatically balance itself and the abscesses will disappear ...
So let's get back to what I was talking about and why I was saying it had a very boring first 40 minutes. It is just stupid and those wire fu are not only uninspiring but also downgrading and making fun of period action scenes like Fong Sai Yuk or Crouching Tiger! You seriously and I doubt anyone goes into a Francis Ng and Cecilia Cheung movie looking for action - action and action... That's just stupid and idiotic and one wonders why the only actor in the movie who has somewhat martial arts talent - Andy On (who apparently even him didn't have training, but rather - learn from watching Jackie Chan's movies) didn't even throw a punch! How's stupid is that! Alright, let's not go into the fights, but seriously 20 minutes of the 40 minutes was action action and action. Okay, I am just getting and rambling on bullshit, but then again, even the comedy in the first 40 min was uninspiring and not funny at all.
However, as I said before, as soon as the director wakes up the movie goes to another level, and the romance and development, between a blind man and a broken leg girl is just damning romantic, but all too short! If only they chuck away the foolish fights in the beginning, as who wants to watch Francis Ng doing martial arts? We want to see him act and geez and without doubt shines through once again and a character that the audience feel good enough to root for! His acting is just a par above a lot of people and even Cecilia Cheung cannot maintain the relax acting style of Ng. So of the two who wins? Well before I announce the winner, let's look into Cheung's acting - firstly she is no good at comedy, but she is at best in expressing the full range of emotions in - romantic drama and that's why she along with the film switches in fine style compared to her forced performance in the first half. Just like the first, Cheung redeems herself and performance here is not bad at all, though not up to par with A Nite in Mongkok.
As to Andy On, he is just a one off good actor in Star Runner, apart from that movie, his roles and acting is almost non-existence and almost to the extent of not even acting. Perhaps calling him wooden is the best to describe his performance here and putting him alongside Francis and Cecilia is just a bad decision because it only helps to show one key thing - he is not a good actor yet.
So let's just sum up what the hell I am on about, actually I was on about. The thing is that this movie is not bad at all, and not good either. I kind of feeling mixed, maybe I will watch it again next time, or at least when the DVD comes out. However, clearly the beginning is all too boring and yes, I was even just about to fall asleep, but the middle part just woke me up, just like the director being forced to concentrate on directing and not just dreaming about wuxia classics. So do I recommend this movie, well it is utterly hard to say, personally, fans of Francis Ng and Cecilia, is worth taking a look, but others, it is not really a movie that will change your mindset - but then again, does movies do that nowadays? Really, let's just sum it up, it is a movie about a little white dragon who falls in love with a blind fool, so what more do I have to say than just say - fast forward to the 40 minute mark.
I rate it 7.5/10
on this movie on HK Neo Reviews Forum
Product Title : The White Dragon
Artist Name(s) : Cecilia Cheung| Francis Ng| Andy On
Language : Cantonese| Mandarin
Duration : 98 minutes
Reviewed by Neo (Andrew) - November 2004