City looks Taiwan’s Kaohsiung City, but its governance probably more closely
resembles Singapore. Maverickery is not encouraged, especially amongst the
police, so it is not surprising “Hero” Wu has been suspended. Of course, that means
he is about to stumble across a massive terrorist plot with only a miserable
gangster for back-up in Black & White: Dawn of Assault (trailer
here), Tsai Yueh-hsun’s big screen prequel to
the eponymous 2009 Taiwanese TV series, which releases today on DVD and BluRay
from Shout Factory.
might be suspended, but he still can sense when things are not on the up and
up. In contrast, lower mid-level Triad Xu Ta-fu has the intuition of burnt
toast. When his boss entrusts him for a week with a suitcase full of cash, Xu
tries to make a quick score flipping some smuggled diamonds. Unfortunately, his
deal goes up in smoke when heavily armed paramilitaries crash the exchange. He
survives only due to Wu’s chance intervention. However, the lone wolf cop soon
realizes the national SIS (SWAT) team are part of the conspiracy.
turns out Xu was not merely trafficking in diamonds. The now missing briefcase
also contains information necessary for constructing an anti-matter bomb (seriously).
Fortunately, computer genius Fan Ning can explain to them the dangerous
implications of the weapon devised by her father’s recently deceased protégé.
is a minor miracle if the paragraph above makes any sense at all. Narrative
logic is not B&W’s strength but
thanks to Tsai’s breakneck pacing, one hardly notices how preposterous it all
is while you are on the ride. Shrewdly, he does not allow his cast a lot of
time to chill out and talk. This also limits the opportunities for schtick from
Huang Bo, the Mainland star of the Lost
in franchise. In fact, he gets downright medieval facing off against Tung,
the Triad’s designated psycho killer.
Chao has done some nicely understated work in the past, particularly in Chen
Kaige’s Caught in the Web, but he
only uses his action chops in B&W,
which are pretty convincing. Unfortunately, Angelababy, who was so awesome in Tai Chi Zero, is ridiculously under-employed
as Fan Ning, who is too often stuck saying things like “let me email my friends
at MIT for help with the decryption.” Terri Kwan has even less to do as the
hostess Xu is besotted with, but the NYU grad and model-turned thesp still
looks fantastically elegant. However, actor-director Leon Dai steps up and
decisively chews the scenery as the shadowy underworld figure, Jabar.
There is one reason to watch B&W—for the action, but at one
hundred forty-two minutes (the cut released in Mainland theaters), there is
certainly plenty of it. Some of the third act revelations will even baffle fans
of the original series (just who are the Pandawa nationalists again?), but
there is plenty of hard-charging meathead fun to be had. Recommended for fans
of the big name cast and Asian action movies in general, Black & White: the Dawn of Assault is now available on Blu-ray
and DVD, from Shout Factory.
Labels: Action films, Angelababy, DVD, Taiwanese Cinema