Battle of the Warriors

2006

Action / Drama / War

128
IMDb Rating 6.7 10 3,768

Synopsis


Downloaded times
January 13, 2020

Cast

Andy Lau as Cheung Ye-Pang
Bingbing Fan as Madam Hou
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
1.15 GB
1280*720
English
R
23.976 fps
133 min
P/S N/A / N/A
2.08 GB
1920×1080
English
R
23.976 fps
133 min
P/S N/A / N/A

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Adorable 9 / 10 / 10

A Gorgeously Human Look at War

It's not everyday that a seemingly generic movie serves up surprises of the immense strength seen here. Although the word immense may carry subjective undertones to each and every movie watcher, getting a powerful anti-war and humanist message thrown into the mix can never be a bad thing. And while certainly not ground breaking in any shape or form and riddled with shocking oversights totally out place in a professional production, A Battle of Wits (ABOW) makes good on its promise in a manner sadly absent from many a supposedly superior project. Once more we're subjected to the oft reused premise of second century China where the seven kingdoms are in an Orwelian state of perpetual war, a condition ABOW at least delivers in a more historically-authoritative fashion. None of that make-believe fictional nonsense suffices, we get names and places that nominally come straight from the history books. At the core of proceedings lies city-state Liang, besieged by the vastly more numerous armies of Zhao. Liang's rather uncaring ruler (Wang Zhiwen who was also in Together) summons for help from legendary warrior-tactician clan Mozi, but only one man turns up: the lone, enigmatic negotiator-style wanderer Ge Li, constantly referred to in the film as Mr. Ge Li for a more meaningful reason than ostensibly presented. Done by Andy Lau in a somewhat low-profile role for the superstar, Ge Li brings to the fore the usual unwilling class and prime values so essential in a valiant protagonist. The catch here is that for all his conquering charm and military prowess, Ge Li doesn't believe in violence and espouses universal love. He also never really hurts anyone on screen, and manages great victories with the least carnage possible, accepting the necessity of violence with the utmost pain. Ge Li gathers Liang's resources as the city becomes encircled by the more traditionally-militant Zhao forces. There's quite a few skirmishes and battles with the movie pacing itself nicely, alternating between philosophical ponderings and action as needed. The antagonists are marshalled by General Xiang Yan Zhong, played by excellent Ahn Sung-kee, who provides a link between ABOW and one of its main inspirations, Musa, where Ahn did the skilled Korean archer Jin. Another element thrown in for good measure revolves around the fledgling love affair between Ge Li and cavalry captain Yi Yue (Fan Bingbing). However, do not worry about getting this epic spoiled by saccharine distractions. ABOW doesn't hold back the tragic contingent, with one heart-wrenching calamity close on the heels of its predecessor. Sooner or later, a sobering reminder yanks events back to the harsh light of reality, no matter how promisingly ideal. Throughout the respectable running time available, maneuvering and scheming supplement ferocious combat, but none of it comes across gratuitous. While you sit there enjoying the clever writing and constant surprises, the story moves along beautifully, purveying the deepest, most profound human content seen in this genre, possibly ever. None of the usual bravado and camera-pleasing antics transpire, ABOW shying from pyrotechnics and wire-works to concentrate on a memorable message regarding the horrors of warfare and the fallibility of humanity. And the grace with which this is conducted must be cherished. Characters steer clear of preachy sermonizing, instead delivering their heart-breaking anguish through organic narrative and fitting context. But every character has ambiguity written all over it, from Ge Li as undecided about his role and identity, the Liang monarch who's as cruel and bent as can be despite professing love for his people, to the contemplative Zhao general and hapless commoners, this flick has them all. It does feel a tad rushed in certain places, some scenes obviously cut short, mayhap to avoid a more restrictive rating due to violent content that was left out by ruthless editors. Still, this doesn't detract from enjoying ABOW's deep moral repercussions and excellent story. What do stand out as sore spots are occasionally ridiculous visual effects and sheer amateurish performances, such as Fan Bingbing opening her eyes a split second after her character was supposed to close them once and for all. Also, some of the action suffers from over-direction, looking like laughable dance choreography with soldiers stumbling around in an exaggerated manner. Additionally, the voice track was clearly dubbed without any effort to mask the discord inevitable when doing this, resulting in awkward spoken material. This isn't helped much by the almost complete absence of a proper soundtrack. Avoid thinking these serious pitfalls. With every single participant in the story completely convincing and multi-dimensional, ABOW scores a huge win for a relatively underdoggish release, and none of its minor failings diminish that. Whatever's broken with the movie on hand is more than made up for by its realistic impact, and thirty minutes in you'll be right at home in Liang, oriented to feel it as a real place confronting concrete terror and hope. Make tracks to the nearest venue showcasing this milestone and see what happens when Hero meets Platoon or Full Metal Jacket. A Battle of Wits is that significant, albeit most likely it will go down in history just as misunderstood as the pan-human principles it seeks to imbue for the benefit of us all. Rating: * * * * 1/2

Reviewed by DICK STEEL 9 / 10 / 10

A Nutshell Review: Battle of Wits (Muk Gong)

The warring states of Ancient China serve as a backdrop for this pan-Asian war epic, starring the charismatic Andy Lau. Going by the literal translation of the Chinese title, it's "Ink War", alluding to the fact that much of the battles in this movie relies a lot more on superior strategy in order to overcome a mammoth battle against a Goliath, with a 4,000 population up against the might of a 100,000 strong well-trained army. Based on a Japanese novel/manga Bokkou, Battle of Wits fictionalizes one of the episodes during 370BC, where China was still divided, and each nation seizing opportunities to usurp the other. Those familiar with history will know that eventually, the kingdom of Qin will ultimately unite the Middle Kingdom for the first time. However, the story sets its sights on the Kingdom of Zhao leading an attack on the smaller state of Liang. In its defence lies a mysterious man from the Mozhi tribe known as Ge Li (Andy Lau of course), who galvanizes Liang's population to stage a stand against what seemingly looks like impossible odds. While war movies of long, long time ago have been flogged to death recently by Hollywood, with films like Alexander, Troy, and fantasy epics like the Lord of the Rings series, Asian movies have rarely scratched the surface until of late, with Battle of Wits leading the charge, and coming right up are at least two film adaptations of episodes from the Romance of the Three Kingdom novels. For those expecting fantastical and romanticized wu-xia martial arts moves, you will be disappointed, as this movie is rooted much in reality. Given the epic scale of this production, it still rings a sense of familiarity in its war scenes, and I thought that shooting most of them in middle-close range, loses much of its grandeur. The big spectacles shown have nothing new that will take your breath away, especially after Hollywood has plundered such productions. Nonetheless it augurs well that Battle of Wits managed to pull off a production of this nature, and has, surprise, a competent storyline to carry it through. There is a strong anti-war message that got worn on the sleeves Ge Li, as smart and cunning as he is, he's the reluctant hero, willing to make sacrifices for the greater good. He finds no pleasure in war, nor killings, but in order to save the masses, he must do what he has to thwart efforts of bloodthirsty kingdoms. He's is the message of "loving thy enemy", naturally not shared by the incompetent leadership in Liang. And since time immemorial, you always have the incompetents possessing the heart of insolence, with characters of sloth and ill intentions, straddling from a high horse. Inept leaders silencing their opposition through calls of treason is a tactic all too familiar, which makes it all the more despondent as you ponder about that aged old Chinese proverb about there being nothing wrong in looking after your personal interests first, instead of bothering with the affairs of others. Ge Li faces both the task of winning over the people's trust (since they're committing the state's defences to his organization), and the inevitable unappreciative, thankless task of having to do just that. As I mentioned, do not expect to see "Qing Gong" or fancy swordplay. Rather I was in awe with the delivery of strategies and counter strategies in having two warring factions pitting their wits against each other. Sometimes they come rather unexpectedly, and will leave you with a smile, like when you're wondering just what everyone is up to when they close their eyes en masse. Accompanied by an excellent soundtrack, the movie could be split down two halves, and while the first centered on the macro affairs, a more micro, personal affairs of the heart managed to creep in between Ge Li and Yi Yue (the gorgeous Fan Bingbing), a calvary officer, and though their romance sometimes stalled the pace of the movie, it added some gravitas to Ge Li the Man, questioning his strong beliefs on being unselfish, and made the finale all the more heart-wrenching to watch. Featuring stars like Wu Ma and Nicky Wu (when was the last time I saw them in a movie) and Korean actor Ahn Sung-kee, this certainly is the movie to watch this week. Forget about them animated penguins, treat yourself to an epic worthy of your time, and well worth a weekend ticket.

Reviewed by ChungMo 9 / 10 / 10

Excellent philosophical war movie

Big budget and hundreds of extras. Huge sets and even bigger philosophical issues. Summary: A lone philosopher warrior arrives to help defend a small kingdom of 4000 from an invading army of 100,000. His surprisingly effective help is accepted until the king and his court become jealous of his popularity and turn on him. Well directed and photographed Chinese/Japanese co-production is full of unanswered philosophical questions about war and honor and when does self-defense turn into savagery. There are a number of rough edges, a few scenes are hard to understand, the historical setting might be unfamiliar to non-Asian viewers, sometimes you can't tell which side of the fight you are watching (although that might be intentional), the CGI effects are sometimes no better then what you would see in a Playstation 2 cut scene and occasionally the movie resorts to old- school theatrics. Despite these shortcomings this movie should see a wider release, in some ways it's better than "Hero" or "House of Flying Daggers". Very recommended.

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