Stills of "A Battle of Wits"
Courtesy of Shaw
Action/Drama Director: Jacob Cheung Starring: Andy Lau, Ahn Sung-ki, Wang Zhiwen,
Fan Bingbing, Wu Chi-lung, Choi Si-won RunTime: - Released By: Shaw & Scorpio East Rating: PG Official website: http://www.abattleofwits.com.hk/
Opening Day: 23 November 2006
A lavishly-produced historical drama from China, A Battle
of Wits tells the complex story of a lone warrior whose mission
is to save a besieged walled city from the savage attack of
a 25,000 strong army.
in the 3rd century, when China comprised seven rival kingdoms,
Ge-Li – an remarkable savior in rags – stands
alone in an endangered city waiting to fulfill his destiny.
is an impossible battle however you look at it. But here is
a lone man willing to climb every mountain and cross every
river just to get to the city of Liang with only one aim:
to deliver Liang from the overwhelming threat of the Kingdom
of Zhao in her battle against the Kingdom of Yan.
Li is the last Mohist in the Warring States period of China.
Facing him in the field are thousands of swift chariots ad
many thousands more mail-clad soldiers. His battle will be
the loneliest battle in the history of war. No battle has
ever been this unmatched in strength.
this one man alone be able to change the destiny of Liang?
On the surface, this is a battle for which bloodshed would
be inevitable. But in reality it is also a battle of wits.
A struggle between power and desire: between a ruler and those
being ruled. A message of anti-war through war itself.
will probably never know what historical warring states looked
like, and how it feels to live during that era. However, thanks
to history books, and most importantly, movies, we get an
idea how people lived then.
we get to learn some important and valuable historical lessons
in the process.
alas, historical dramas are gradually becoming computer-generated
spectaculars with heavier emphasis on showing off what technology
can do, rather than making sure that the movie flows with
a sturdy storyline.
how relieved we were, after viewing this 2-odd hour China-Korea-Japan
production which not only boasts of countless magnificent
battle scenes, but also a strongly anchored plot.
on a mid-90s manga, the expensive production tells the story
of one noble man who goes all out to guard a city from a massive
horde of enemy army. Along the way, he faces obstacles in
the forms of a selfish ruler, traitorous townsmen and most
crucially, his own beliefs about peace and survival.
US$16 million thrown into the budget, it is easy to lose the
production to senseless special effects and fancy mindless
postproduction. But director Jacob Cheung makes sure that
his film does not end up like Chen Kaige’s laughable
The Promise (2005), by paying particular attention to the
pacing of the plot.
movie takes it own time to develop the screenplay, and this
may shun away some less patient viewers. But we’d recommend
that you stay with the film, because of its gradual buildup
of character personalities, interspersed with impressive battle
scenes starring many soldiers, horses, bows and arrows.
most of them aren’t even computer-generated.
that Chueng’s director filmography consists of mainly
affecting human dramas like 2001’s Midnight Fly starring
Simon Yam and the late Anita Mui, as well as 1997’s
Intimates featuring Carina Lau and Charlie Yeung, this latest
big-budget work of his is definitely a commendable feat.
Hong Kong director would probably want to thank his reliable
cast as well. While we have never been too impressed with
Andy Lau’s acting; his toned-down performance as the
lone warrior is pleasantly well-portrayed.
our favourite performance comes from veteran Shanghai actor
Wang Zhiwen who plays the unwise ruler of the town that is
under siege from a strong army. His stubborn and selfish ways
comes through effectively, with just a proud swagger or a
condescending look in the eyes. These subtle gestures are
enough for you to detest his character.
familiar faces like Taiwanese pop singer Nicky Wu, Chinese
actress Fan Bingbing and Koreans Ahn Sung Ki and Choi Si Won
round up this well-represented Asian cast.
really completes this movie is the noble message behind it.
Thought-provoking notions about universal peace, philanthropic
human nature, innocence and victimization are raised throughout.
These concepts keep prodding you at the back of your mind
while your eyes feast on the visually-glorious captured on
the films lens.
the end of the day, the movie may not provide you with answers
to those questions. But perhaps, that is the most valuable
lesson you can take home after stepping out of the cinema.
(A sincere historical mega production with values
that resonate with today’s viewers)