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小白龍情海翻波 (2004)
The White Dragon

Reviewed by: Hyomil
Date: 04/07/2011

Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: beyond asiaphilia
Date: 02/16/2009
Summary: great lead performances save this one

Francis Ng plays a blind swordsman opposite spoiled and vain rich girl Cecilia Cheung in this 21st century martial arts redux. Full of jokey anachronisms and mo le tau humor, the film is nonetheless affecting due to the charisma and chemistry of the two leads. Francis channels Zatoichi with a twist–he’s a sensitive and noble, lovelorn guy.

He also battles a very bad haircut but miraculously manages to become more and more attractive, even though he spends half the film with his eyes rolled up in his head. The scene where he discovers that Cecilia thinks he’s handsome is classic–charming, funny and convincing. Kudos to Cecilia Cheung (who won Best Actress at the HK Film Awards) for keeping her bratty character light and appealing. Both she and Francis move effortlessly from slapstick to melodrama to romance without missing a beat, demonstrating why they're the best in the biz at what they do.

Wilson Yip continues his schizophrenic directing career, combining wuxia, comedy, romance and satire in classic HK style. This one, as well as Juliet In Love and Bullets Over Summer, makes me wonder what went so terribly wrong with Wilson Yip with Dragon Tiger Gate. Maybe a bigger budget isn't always a good thing, or maybe Donnie Yen's huge ego and pocketbook called the shots with that one.

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: ewaffle
Date: 10/05/2006

“White Dragon” is a period romantic comedy that is full of deliberate anachronisms, has more loose ends than a string factory and which satirizes and comments upon a number of Hong Kong movie genres. Its two stars, Cecilia Cheung and Francis Ng, are well cast and deliver terrific performances in decently written main parts.

It begins as a Wuxia film—a fight in a bamboo forest between Black Phoenix and Chicken Feathers—and it quickly becomes obvious that flying and swordplay won’t be the centerpiece here. For example, Chicken Feathers trips a springy sapling so that Black Phoenix flies into it, a scene that could have been done just as appropriately by Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd. Each of the wuxia scenes, other than the final, climatic one, are carried on a bit too long or involve just too much acrobatic swashbuckling to be taken seriously. To top it off, when Black Phoenix first uses her new found powers she accidentally flies to the top of a roof and doesn’t know how to get down—her schoolmates have to fetch a ladder for her.

Some of the obvious gags work well. An example is when Auntie gives her powers to Black Phoenix—it is done with the familiar Windows file transfer logo complete with the meter on the bottom of the screen to show how much time is remaining. Just before this the seemingly dying auntie—having been bested for the last time by Chicken Feathers—tells Black Phoenix that she will be the next White Dragon. When Black Phoenix tells her that she doesn’t understand she says “OK I will say it again”, the film rewinds to the point the scene began with the soundtrack rewinding faster with a screech to make sure the audience gets the joke, and her part of that scene is replayed. The scene in which she gives a recital as a one woman band which ends with a Peter Townsend guitar smash begins promisingly but runs out of steam almost immediately.

Only slightly less subtle are scenes that parody some of the hoary conventions of Hong Kong action movies. Black Phoenix and the audience think that Auntie has died after her last encounter with Chicken Feathers. When she appears as healthy as ever and looking like she will live a lot longer (and White Phoenix marvels at her recovery) it recalls kung fu movies in which the hero has absorbed enough punishment to kill a platoon of fighters only to continue to come back tougher and stronger than before.

Chicken Feathers and Black Phoenix are the type of roles that actors love. Cecelia Cheung has plenty of star turns in which she is able to show her chops and occasionally really let things rip. She is called upon to be cute, petulant, funny, grieving and heroic and has a few memorable scenes, including the one already commented upon in which she isn’t able to get the only copy of the furry polka-dotted Gucci bag. Francis Ng has an easy time of it—which doesn’t detract in the least from his excellent performance. A heroic character with a handicap means that the audience is on your side from the beginning. Even so, he inhabits and develops his character so that we soon feel empathy with him and not just sympathy for a blind man.

“White Dragon” tries too hard—no movie can be funny, pathetic and heroic by turns and have all of them work effectively. Some of the gags fall flat and some of the touching scenes (especially the flute playing) go on for too long but generally it is a movie worth seeing, especially for the undiluted star power and exhibited talent of the leads.


Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: cal42
Date: 09/03/2006

A pretty but vain University student Black Phoenix (Cecilia Cheung) dreams of marrying the handsome young Prince Tian Yang (Andy On), but events take a sharp turn when she is bestowed with super powers when a secret hero (who is the University’s maid) is all but killed in an encounter with the notorious blind assassin Chicken Feathers (a brilliantly played Francis Ng). With her newfound powers, she confronts Chicken Feathers only to sustain a broken leg. She is nursed back to health by Chicken Feathers himself, who reveals himself to be a righteous man who rights the wrongs in society. As he’s diametrically opposed to the Prince, who wants him dead, Black Phoenix is surprised to find herself falling for the blind swordsman and must choose between the two before one is forced to kill the other.

Sometimes funny, sometimes surprisingly touching, THE WHITE DRAGON treads a fine line between comedy and romance. It is not, however, a Wuxia film despite the film’s cover and the opening scene in a bamboo forest complete with wire-fu acrobatics! It does occasionally seem like there’s too many influences at play here (the reviewer who likened parts of it to a Wong Jing comedy is bang on) and seems somehow diluted because of it. However, it’s all harmless enough fun.

I thought the leads were really great in this, particularly Francis Ng. But Cecilia Cheung is also pretty good as the vain and spoilt Phoenix – I Thought it was funny when she threw a hissy fit in the handbag shop because she couldn’t have the one she wanted!

The romantic angle is surprisingly effective though, and you can’t help but root for Chicken Feathers to win the lady’s heart. He is very childlike at times (for an assassin, anyway!) and some of his scenes are genuinely touching.

As with most films of this ilk, though, it’s probably not going to be a film you’ll want to watch again and again. But if you can rent it (or borrow it from a friend like I did) you should find yourself decently entertained.

Reviewer Score: 6

Reviewed by: Chinoco
Date: 07/23/2006
Summary: Very Entertaining!

I don't agree with the last couple of reviews here. I really enjoyed this movie! Personally, I am not a fan of wire-fu films. Thankfully, aside from a few scenes, this movie strayed away from that genre.

I would classify this movie as a comedy, with action and drama thrown in there as well. My girlfriend, who is by no means a HK movie fan; also liked it. I feel that this film would be enjoyed by a varied audience of all kinds. In some HK films, the comedy doesn't translate well. However this film seemed to be aimed at an international audience with jokes about computer downloads and McDonald’s for instance. Even more amusing was that fact that the story took place in ancient China!

The story features Phoenix: (Cecilia Cheung) a rich, slightly arrogant young student; and Chicken Feathers: (Francis Ng) A blind assassin for hire with heroic tendencies and a sense of justice.

When Chicken Feathers is hired to kill the headmaster of the school; his nemesis the White Dragon attempts to stop him, but is seriously injured in the process. Phoenix, stumbles upon the injured lady and the White Dragon decides to transfer her powers to Phoenix. Becoming the new White Dragon, Phoenix makes it her mission to hunt down Chicken Feathers and is injured in her first battle with him. She wakes up to find that her injuries have been tended to, and that she is being nursed back to health. After several days of severe (and very funny) arguing; she slowly discovers that the assassin may not be that bad after all. Chicken Feathers begins to fall for Phoenix and wonders if such a beautiful girl could ever love a blind man.

Francis Ng really steals the show here. His acting is top notch. A lot of the earlier reviews found Cecilia Cheung annoying. I didn't see that however, and thought she was extremely smooth and comedic in this film! I will note that I did watch the English dub of the film, so it is possible that she came across as less irritating in this version.

Another great bit part was Hui Siu-Hung (from Naked Killer, & the Running Out of Time series) as Chicken Feathers agent. I have often found this actor to add a spark to the small roles that he is given.

One last interesting note about the movie is that there is no real villain until the last fifteen minutes. That was an original touch. Overall, I was very surprised about the quality of the film. Action, comedy, a good story, and great acting. Highly recommended.

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
Date: 04/20/2006
Summary: disappointing

It starts out like a live wire fu fantasy movie then dramatically falls into a run of the mill drama which has been seen and done. Predictable ending, and a waste of talent, potentially could of been so much more!!
I felt so decieved as i thought this would be a completely different movie, just like "the legend of the flying swordsman"

Reviewer Score: 4

Reviewed by: dandan
Date: 03/08/2006
Summary: well, this was a mistake...

getting down to the nitty gritty; cecilia chung is very annoying and you want her to die, the rest of the characters and the plot are easily forgettable.

as for the action; well, it's quite disappointing as it has the potential to be good, but never quite gets there. three, all too brief, sequences which, stylistically, make an attempt at being mid-90s wu xia; sadly they don't carry it off.

i'd suggest that you avoid it...

Reviewed by: j.crawford
Date: 12/31/2005
Summary: funny, clever movie

This is a funny, clever movie by one of the best film makers working in Hong Kong. Cecilia Cheung and Francis Ng star in a basic romantic comedy formula story about adversary's who fall in love with each other. Director Wilson Yip fleshes out the formula with funny bits of business that cross in and out of time frames and genre's.

Beautiful young woman [Ms. Cheung] loves, then forsakes a handsome prince [Andy On] for a quirky, blind assassin [Mr. Ng] hired to kill the heir to the throne. Marvelous performance by Francis Ng pays homage to the legendary Zatoichi [Shintaro Katsu]. Blending romance, wuxia, and comedy, Yip leads Cheung and the always awesome Ng through a moving, enjoyable visual experience.

Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: mrblue
Date: 04/22/2005

In The White Dragon, Cecilia Cheung plays the title character. She's a pretty schoolgirl who is given super kung fu powers by the campus maid in order to stop a blind assassin named Chicken Feathers (yes, that is his name) who is portrayed by the venerable Francis Ng. Good old "C.F." (as the subtitles call him) has been assigned to kill a prince White Dragon is engaged to (played by Andy On), so she sets out to find Chicken Feather's weak spot and kill him. During a battle, White Dragon's leg is broken, so she is taken in by Chicken Feathers, who respects her honorable motives. While she is recuperating, White Dragon develops feelings for Chicken Feathers and must decide whether to protect her husband-to-be or pursue a romance with the mysterious hitman.

I really don't know what to make of The White Dragon. It starts off as a dopey Wong Jing-esque comedy (complete with toilet humor and video game-inspired sequences) and then turns into a fairly serious romantic picture (with the mandatory slow-motion ballad scene), all the while still having the pretenses of a wuxia film (foes battling while flying along treetops). Sure, genre-mixing is almost a given in Hong Kong movies, but something about The White Dragon just didn't sit quite right with me, and the film as a whole felt a bit flat as a result.

Though if I was pressed to do so, I would probably say that The White Dragon's biggest stumbling point is Cecilia Cheung. She has proven in work like One Nite in Mongkok that she's capable of a strong performance, but her work here is sub-par. During the comedic scenes, Cheung resorts to the screeching style of acting that makes most people retch, and it's hard to take her seriously during the fight scenes. Even with the aid of doubles, wires and CGI, I just can't buy that little 98-pound Cecilia is capable of kicking serious ass. She does show promise in a couple of her scenes with Francis Ng (who does a solid job as always), but those moments are few and far between.

Still, I did at least somewhat enjoy The White Dragon. It's not a great movie by any means -- in fact, The White Dragon is pretty much straight-up generic in every sense of the word. But the movie looks nice, moves along at a good clip, and Francis Ng somehow makes even the most vapid Hong Kong fare watchable. For those looking for ninety minutes of harmless fluff to waste away a rainy afternoon, The White Dragon is probably right up your alley.

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