The Silent War

2012

Crime / Drama / Mystery / Thriller

185
IMDb Rating 6.2 10 1,430

Synopsis


Downloaded times
June 15, 2020

Director

Cast

Xun Zhou as Moon
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
1.07 GB
1280*720
Chinese 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
120 min
P/S N/A / N/A
2.21 GB
1920×1080
Chinese 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
120 min
P/S N/A / N/A

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by DICK STEEL 8 / 10 / 10

A Nutshell Review: The Silent War

If China has an NSA equivalent in the 1950s, then perhaps this secret unit codenamed 701 may be it, with its huge army of operatives employed in listening, code making, code breaking, and having field agents out there move in when the intelligence war is won, and time for some real action. Based on the novel "Plot Against" by Mai Jia, writer-directors Felix Chong and Alan Mak combine forces once again to weave an intricate spy thriller that's full of their usual innovativeness employed in storytelling, and reunites them with leading man Tony Leung, after their project Confession of Pain. I can imagine how they could have enticed Tony to pick up the role. After all, one of the most memorable sequences in Infernal Affairs has Tony Leung engaged in a back channel communication with the police through morse code. And morse code takes centerstage here, with the directors perhaps having challenged the actor an opportunity to brush up his skills. Sure I may not understand morse, and nor can I vouch for the authenticity of what's being communicated in the film, and if my dad was still around he could decipher all the dits and the dats in a jiffy. In any case, any film with the thespian on board is worth a second look, and here, the filmmakers threw another gauntlet, by having him play a blind man, taking away those soulful eyes from the equation, to force the actor out of his comfort zone and deprive him one of his most mesmerizing gifts. And of course, it's not a surprise that Tony Leung still aces his role of He Bin, an assistant to a piano tuner, who is somewhat like a peer of Daredevil, with his extra sensory prowess channelled into his ability to listen to sounds miles away, or to discern voices from noise. He is discovered by Zhou Xun's 701 operative Chang Xue Ning, one of the best in the business, and their adversarial relationship soon gives into a budding friendship, before hinting of something more. But in the 50s and sworn to a job she pledged her life to, the romance doesn't get anywhere, especially when Shen Jing (Mavis Fan) enters the picture, a fellow operative in the larger family dealing with code breaking, with whom Xue Ning entrusts He Bin to, given her mission to weed out the enemy number known as "Chungking". Wait, isn't this supposed to be a thriller? It sure was primed to be one, with the first hour dealing with He Bin's discovery, and reluctance to assist the 701 unit, who have to re-locate all the telegraphic channels of the enemy, which suddenly went silent, and having been switched to something else. Blinded in a way, the 701 is desperate to have its listening channels back online, lest their operatives get into harms way. So in comes He Bin and his uncanny ability to zone in beyond the noise, and hunt down the enemy's communication lines, so that surveillance can be re-established. It's a pretty tight set up to introduce us to all the major characters, giving us a little glimpse into their back stories, and motivations. But it degenerated into its romantic entanglement for a little too long, before the directors realize their over indulgence. It did work out however, in showing the deep friendship between the three central characters involved in the love triangle, with Zhou Xun playing it really like a cool cat, unfazed by competition and knowing her place in the order of battle, while Tony Leung did convince as the illiterate man blessed with a gift that is ruthlessly milked by the organization if not for a friendly face attached to the unit, and the compassion shown. Mavis Fan rounds up the role as the demure, next best alternative, and doesn't really have much to do save to pop up in the final act offering clues. Rather than opt for big bang sequences, scenes here are kept relatively minimal, lens beautifully by Anthony Pun, with special effects saved for making what He Bin can do, in a very visual sense, bordering on piecing together hypotheses and conclusions that can be drawn from powers of deduction. The period costumes and sets beautifully adorn each scene, and it's somewhat a refreshing change with a period Chinese story that's set up without the usual Japan bashing, with the "enemy" here being the Nationalists in a tussle for power over Mainland China through the employment of spies, and intelligence gathering. It's an unconventional war that's the mainstay focus here, and the filmmakers did their best in contrasting the brutal field work with the more idyllic background that some get to work in, all fighting for the same objective, but in vastly different environments. The finale did remind me of The Godfather in a way, operatic but here, somewhat anti- climatic given the surprise thrown up in order to deal the characters with an emotional sucker punch. But by and large when the film really got down to its highlights of cold calculations rather than having emotions in the way, it's gripping at best, boasting all round performances from the leads. Even Wang Xuebing as 701's chief nicknamed "Devil" projects screen presence that threatened to steal the show despite having to play wingman here, and I'm already interested to take a closer look at this filmography. The Silent War may not be Felix Chong and Alan Mak's best work, nor Tony Leung's for that matter despite having to perform with a handicap, but it did serve up sufficient moments that differ from the usual found in the genre, and provided for an entertaining two hours in a world of spy versus spy. Recommended!

Reviewed by caseymoviemania 5 / 10 / 10

Casey's Movie Mania: THE SILENT WAR (2012)

Previously known as WINDSEEKER, Alan Mak and Felix Chong's THE SILENT WAR fizzled at the Hong Kong box office upon release but somehow gained huge success in Mainland China. Reviews were also terribly mixed. But somehow I'm surprised to find out that THE SILENT WAR isn't as bad as I thought. Yes, it feels somewhat hollow for most parts but overall, it's an engaging dramatic thriller benefited from a solid cast and competent directions from Alan Mak and Felix Chong. Set during the Chinese Civil War circa 1949, the movie centers on Zhang Xuening (Zhou Xun), a senior investigator who joins 701, a top-secret government agency tasked to stop "invisible enemy". Upon her arrival at the 701 headquarters in southern China, she is instructed by her superior, known as Devil (Wang Xuebing), to bring back the famous piano tuner, Luo San-Er (Pal Sin) from Shanghai, because he has an unique hearing ability that could help 701's radio-monitoring division to locate the frequencies now being used by KMT (Taiwan-based Kuomintang) agents for top-secret military information. However, she ends up rescuing Luo's blind assistant, He Bing (Tony Leung Chiu-Wai) instead who has a better sense of hearing, and brings him back instead. Within a couple of days, He Bing has successfully discovers over 70 encrypted radio channels, which provide intelligence that KMT agents are gathering in China's major cities, including Shanghai. Meanwhile, He Bing finds himself falling for Xuening but gradually attached to a decipher clerk Shen Jing (Mavis Fan) instead. Soon, problem arises when 701 agent Wu Chang (Dong Yuan) is killed in Shanghai while tailing a KMT agent Zhang Guoxiang (Lam Wai). Devil suspects there are some remaining radio channels yet to be discovered that are being used by the KMT for advanced and sophisticated codes. Again, He Bing manages to track those channels down, and discovers it involves with a mysterious head of the whole KMT spying operation codenamed as "Chungking". It's understandable why the movie is unpopular for those who have seen it. The movie is mostly muted in tones, particularly in the second act that concentrates more on a love triangle between He Bing, Xuening and Shen Jing. While the romantic part has its worthwhile moments, most of them tends to drag the story a lot. Not surprisingly, the pace is erratic with Alan Mak and Felix Chong are yet to practice their sense of restraints whenever they tries to explore in a broader canvas within the genre convention. It's also a shame that the directors choose to ignore political aspect as well as the overall complexity of Mai Jia's original novel (in which the movie was adapted) and favors for something more commercial and simpler. But, as mentioned earlier, the movie remains engaging enough to watch for. Even though Alan Mak and Felix Chong's executions does burden with a couple of hiccups, the first act and the third act are overall interesting. Furthermore, the movie is mostly saved by a line of solid cast. Tony Leung Chiu-Wai is typically charismatic as always, even though his Mandarin re-dubbing voice, does sounds awkward at time. Zhou Xun fares better and easily the most accomplished role of all. Here, she gives one of her classiest, yet nuanced performances she ever played in her acting career. Her engaging presence alone is certainly well-worthy for awards nomination. The rest of the supporting cast are equally competent. Technically, the movie is adequate enough. While Dion Lam's action choreography is nothing to shout about, at least there are some worthwhile tension moments here. Overall production values are visually credible, particularly for its elegant set decoration that has the authentic feel of the period era.

Reviewed by moviexclusive 5 / 10 / 10

Only the last half hour is worth watching

War, in any number of forms, is a frantic activity. War movies, in juxtaposition, are inherently an entertainment business, made by people who measure with near perfect precision the amount of drama and tension that best represents the specific war being discussed. Unfortunately, The Silent War is a miscalculation of the worst sort, mildly interesting in the least parts and wholly numb in the most parts. It takes too long to arrive at any kind of tension and buries its exhausting journey there in an uncomfortable direction and bald sentimentality. I don't hate The Silent War, but it's often more trouble than it's worth. The movie takes place in 1950s China where revolutionists run rampant. The government responds with the 701 agency, a secret department that spies on conspirators through telegraphs, intercepts their messages and intervenes before they hit. After the enemy cripples the transmissions, secret service agent Zhang Xue-Ning (Zhou Xun) is forced to recruit blind piano tuner He Bing (Tony Leung). He Bing eventually retrieves the transmissions with his heightened sense of hearing but not before he falls into a romantic gridlock with Xue-Ning and colleague Shen Jing (Mavis Fan). With the revolutionists quickly closing in on the government, the agency must stop them at all costs. Married to the direction of Infernal Affairs veterans Alan Mak and Felix Chong, The Silent War explodes into a cunning game of deceit between the good and the bad during the last half hour, culminating in a gripping finale that sees our heroes barely save theday. It's a finely performed conclusion that manages to feel like the worst type of indulgence, one that is only justified because the rest of the film is so terrible. Alan and Felix are uncharacteristically conservative here, almost too timid to explore the massive scale of the war and merely satisfied to lock the majority of the movie within the dark hallways of the agency's building. The result is a largely one-sided and stiff movie that doesn't quite earn the narrative trust it's supposed to have. Tony Leung tries to save the film by applying the most ridiculous dose of concentration in turning radio knobs and conveying a face perpetually taut with distress as he leans in on encrypted messages from the revolutionists while his colleagues caress morse code-printed paper incessantly. It's all done so that you can pretend that there're field agents on the frontlines receiving this intelligence and doing all the exciting stuff like chasing and shooting bad guys. Of course, this never materialises and you're trapped with seeing Tony Leung wearing sunglasses and turning radio knobs for almost 1.5 hours. At this point, I feel that it's both fairly accurate and patently unfair to label Tony Leung's character boring. While the film restricts him to a largely pretentious role, he has a thankless task of quickly switching to a jocular, if somewhat abrasive demeanour that lends reasonable credibility to the romantic portions of the film. This still doesn't excuse the poorly handled romantic threads that seemingly tear you out of the experience at random intervals, bearable at best and jarring at worst. Fortunately, the love story arcs survive the questionable introduction to work effectively into the denouement. The biggest problem with The Silent War is that it requires you to invest your interest in a hefty 1.5 hours before rewarding you the big prize in the last half hour. This would be fine if the first 1.5 hours didn't struggle while attempting to come up with anything remotely interesting. By the time it gets to the really good stuff in the last half hour, the movie's nearly over and it tries to establish elements that it never spent enough time considering. The Silent War is a movie that could be great, should be great, but isn't great.

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