A Battle of Wits (2006)
Reviewed by: STSH on 2007-01-01
Summary: Impressive
This sweeping historical epic reminded me a lot of Generation Consultant (apparently set in the same historical period), and even had some plot similarities to Tian Di (also starring Andy).

The character of Ge Li is quite complex, which is pretty unusual for a historical pic in HK. He starts out wandering in from the desert, turns out to be a brilliant military strategist whose plans manage to kill many enemy soldiers, then he reveals humanist tendencies such as respect for enemy dead. And the revelation of each of these aspects of his character often signal plot twists.

This is, in no sense, a triumphalistic war-is-good pic. There are scenes of horrid brutality and suffering, many moments of personal doubt, kindness and humanity. The viewpoint swings from the personal to the vast and back again with effortless grace.

The scale is epic. Thousands of extras appear in the battle scenes, provided by units of the People's Liberation Army. And the locations are stunning. Sweeping deserts, spectacular cliffs, menacing forests.

Things move a little slowly for the first half-hour but, at 135 minutes, it feels about the right length. The cast is first rate, the acting is of a high standard (Andy just keeps getting better), the direction and photography are first rate. Recommended.

Reviewer Score: 7