review: 鸿门宴 white vengeance

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of late i have been watching a lot of chinese movies and i would have to say, mainland productions have improved SO MUCH. today i’ll talk about 鸿门宴, one of my favourites from the list.

the story:

this is a historical drama based on the real event 鸿门宴, a set up “party” hosted by 项羽 (XiangYu) in order to have 刘邦(LiuBang) killed; this banquet is the highlight of the struggle between 刘邦 and 项羽, the two most prominent generals during the fall of the Qin Dynasty. the movie is rolled out as a mystery man narrating their story – how they met, how they became brothers and how they fall apart. while the narration can be clearer – people like me who perpetually fall asleep during history classes back in high school might need some help, the emotional arc of the characters are well rendered and that’s more than enough to make it up for me.

the characters/the acting:

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冯绍峰 as 项羽

i find the relationship between the two leads a little blurry, there isn’t enough frenemy showcased, mainly due to 黎明 (Leon Lai)’s rather flat portrayal of 刘邦. looking at how the story ended, the show and the actor himself could have done a better job shaping 刘邦 as a cunning and tactical person; however, throughout the show he was seen as a rather straightforward and predictable man, or so it occured to me. 项羽 on the other hand was reasonably well performed by 冯绍峰 (Feng Shao Feng), he did brought 霸王 to life, although a tad bit too emotional (if i really had to pick), he looks sizzling hot and that’s already a pass on eileen’s book. sorry 黎明 blame yourself for putting on too much weight please.

the most stellar performances on the movie in my opinion, is put up by the key personnels on 刘邦’s team. 张良(Zhang Liang) and 范增 (Fan Zeng) the strategists as portrayed by 张涵予 (Zhang HanYu) and 黄秋生 (Anthony Wong) stole the show, they had me biting my nails with the uber intense mind game played at the banquet scene, and they totally deserve me to 赐 (award) them the title of acting powerhouses. 樊噲 (Fan Kuai), 韩信(Han Xin) and 萧何 (XiaoHe) as portrayed by 陈小春 (Jordan Chan), 安志杰 (An Zhi Jie) and 修庆 (XiuQing) are also notable characters that added colours to the show, with their limited screen times, the brotherhood and emotions from their parts are extremely well delivered.

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刘亦菲 as 虞姬

another unimportant character… or so acted by 刘亦菲 (Liu YiFei) is 虞姬 (Yuan Ji), her looks fits the bill of being 虞美人 but… that’s all? 虞姬’s character could have done so much more for the show so it’s quite a waste that she didn’t do much but 刘亦菲 is really very pretty lah! she makes every scenes she appeared in prettier, so i guess that’s not too bad too.

the romance:

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the famous 霸王别姬 

movies are never complete without romance! though not the focus, loveline for 项羽 and 虞姬 has its weight for the show. while many pointed out that the romance between 虞姬 and 刘邦 should be emphasised to deepen the conflicts between 刘邦 and 项羽, i appreciate how the show only brushed it through briefly, and in the most subtle way, brought out 刘邦’s feelings for 虞姬 (when he brought her the old 琵琶 (lute) that she used to play AWWW); this works for me and have given the show a lot more depth then it would should the characters were in a love triangle (cliche much?). one thing i’d complain about is that…  it’d be so nice if they can just add a goodbye kiss at the 霸王别姬 scene!

last words/ ratings:

in short, this movie mostly hit the right buttons for me and i will be giving it a whopping 9/10. i hope you too will enjoy, especially if you’re chinese educated!

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