Black & White: The Dawn of Justice 痞子英雄 (Movie Review)

Big explosions. Check.

Airplane and train explosions. Check.

Nail-biting car chases. Check.

Nefarious bearded evil mastermind. Check.

Wrenching human drama and emotion. Check.

Like any big ticket Hollywood feature, Taiwanese action-thriller Black & White: The Dawn of Justice (痞子英雄) is packed with suspense. Directed by three-times Golden Bell Awards winner Tsai Yueh-Hsun, the movie is the second in a series (the first is Black and White Episode 1: The Dawn of Assault). For the uninitiated (namely me), Tsai is also known for his commercially successful and critically acclaimed TV series, such as “Meteor Garden”(2001), “Known in the World”(2003) and “The White Tower”(2006).

From the word "Go!", viewers are treated to non-stop adrenaline pumping action, set against the backdrop of a possible apocalypse.

The plot centres around police hero Wu Ying-xiong (Taiwanese-Canadian actor Mark Chao) in the fictitious Harbor City - a futuristic Asian city with cutting-edge technology (think Iron Man and its fancy floating screens). Celebrated as a hero for stopping terrorists who hijacked a plane, Ying-xiong (which sounds like hero in Chinese) has to collaborate with arrogant but super-intelligent Chen Zhen (Shanghai actor Lin Gengxin) to stop the villainous perpetuator of serial bombing incidents.

That's not all. Beyond the targeted bombing of critical targets (think government offices, tunnels, vehicles, freeways, police stations and more), the heinous and stylishly well-groomed enemy of the state has the audacity to kidnap people and transform them into unwitting suicide bombers. They include Xu Da-Fu (played by veteran Chinese actor Huang Bo), a kind-hearted criminal whom Ying-xiong is indebted to due to his help in foiling the airplane crisis.

The plot thickens when a killer virus capable of transforming the entire population into wiping out the entire city is found to be incubating in Da-Fu's heavily pregnant wife. Yes, we are talking about Alien all over again, albeit of the microbial earth-created variety. The germs embedded within her is so virulent that it make Ebola, SARS, AIDS, and even the Bubonic Plague seem like child's play!

Naturally, the clock ticks away and our protagonists must race against time in order to stop a couple of wayward missiles from detonating and infecting (plus killing) the entire population. Can they stop the nefarious Night-walkers (the villainous para-military outfit akin to GI Joe's Cobra Command) from decimating the entire human race in their bid to reinvent humanity?

As a Taiwanese produced thriller, I feel that Black & White: The Dawn of Justice 痞子英雄 has changed my mindset about how Taiwanese movies are like. The pacing of the movie is fairly quick and there are enough twists in the plot to keep one glued to the action on the screen. There is good screen chemistry between the two male leads, with Mark playing the character of the serious solemn hero while Gengxin acts as the wise-cracking joker. I also like the fact that the action sequences are fairly realistic, although perhaps not quite in the same league as Jerry Bruckheimer's cinematic productions.

Unfortunately, the storyline wasn't as tightly woven together as I would have liked. Character development for the rest of the cast beyond the main leads was also somewhat lacking. With the exception of Ning Chang's Lan Xi-Yin, the other female actresses are relegated to being eye and arm candy. I also found the villainous portrayals a little stereotypical. cliched and flat. It would have been better if the film gave more screen time to develop the backstory behind how a good man turned evil.

Black & White: The Dawn of Justice 痞子英雄 will be opening on cinemas islandwide come 9 Oct 2014. Go check it out and let me know what you think.


Mark Chao (趙又廷) as Wu Ying-Xiong
Lin Gengxin (林更新) as Chen Zhen
Huang Bo (黃渤) as Xu Da-fu
Ning Chang (張鈞甯) as Lan Xi-Yin
Christopher LEE (李銘順) as a four-star general

Special thanks to Kevin Soh of Clover Films for the invitation to this movie premiere. To find out more about the Asian movies that they are producing and bringing to Singapore, go ahead to "like" their Facebook page, follow them on Instagram, or subscribe to their YouTube channel. All photos above are credited to Clover Films.

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