White Lotus Cult (1993)
Reviewed by: wyeeso on 2012-04-13
Summary: A mix of history and martial arts
[Plot: 3.5/5]
I guess I took the story a bit too serious. I thought the whole story will get the audiences to think more of the social issues (such as discrimination) and changes (such as China becoming westernized) that took place during the Guangxu era due to foreign invasion and the chaos created by the White Lotus Cult. The reason why I think that way is the story does begin with an illustration of how China has become a chaotic place that's full of discrimination and hatred among the Chinese civilians, Imperial government and the foreigners. And behind the chaos, the White Lotus Cult (which is full of thugs and swindlers) has been favored and appointed by Empress Dowager Cixi to attack foreigners, threaten the civilians to join their side, and frequently show contempt for the law. Eventually, the civilians can no longer define what's right and wrong, who's good and bad. As for the social changes, the audiences should notice a few western features in the imperial China. For examples, you'll see the Imperial family skating on ice, the Chinese soldiers using firearms, and civilians riding on the steam train for transportation! And that's the first half (it's actually less than a half) of the story that has led me to think about the corruptions and peaceless movements during Guangxu era.
Then comes the second larger half of the story, which goes back into a typical martial-art/revenge film. It all begins with the leader of the White Lotus Cult, Chan Sing Tim (played by Ji Chun-Hua), having a kundalini syndrome while conducting a retreat, so he plots to take the White Lotus Classic from his senior, Kim Jan (played by Gan Tak-Mau), to cure himself. In his plot, Sing Tim tricks Kim Jan into assassinating Empress Dowager Cixi while he tries to terminate Kim Jan so he can get the Classic and gain more favors from Cixi. Following the betrayal, Kim Jan and his former lover, Hung (played by Lily Li), decides to train a medicine delivery boy, Sam (played by Do Siu-Chun), to become a martial artist in hopes to defeat Sing Tim. And just right after Sam finishes his training, Kim Jan immediately dies from a fatal internal injury. Now, Kim Jan's daughter Siu Tieh (played by Elise Yip) and Sam are both desperate to avenge for Kim Jan, but on the other hand, Sing Tim only has 49 days to live if he doesn't get himself cured. The point is, since they know they are too weak to defeat Sing Tim, they should just hide with the Classic and wait for the 49 days to pass, so that Sing Tim can be "self-destructed" by then, ending up in a sure-win situation! Oh well, Sing Tim ends up getting an easy death anyway at the end.
Given that this story is related to revenge, brotherhood and betrayal naturally become the themes for this film. The relationship between Sing Tim and Kim Jan is definitely relevant to the themes, but, unfortunately, it's illustrated without depth. So comparing to that, I find the friendship between Sam and Kuang (played by Tam Chiu) a bit more appealing.

[Actors: 2.5/5]
I don't think anyone really stands out in this film. Well, I guess except for Ji Chun-Hua, who's always the best choice to play the bald and cocky villain without eyebrows in kung-fu films. But anyways, average jobs from everyone.

[The Production Crew:]
Being a martial-art film, the martial choreography is fine, but I wish the last fight can be a bit more entertaining.
Also, I realize the editor has done some poor jobs in this film. For example, a shot doesn't connect well with the sequel shot. It's as if a few second has been taken out between the shots.

[Memorable scene(s):]
Don't really have a memorable scene, but I see a common (or expected) scenario in this film. If you get caught by the bad guys and you beg them to let you live, you'll get killed for sure. Otherwise, if you get caught and you beg them to end your miserable life right away, the chance is they won't kill you and you'll get to live (or at least a bit longer).

[Worth Watching A Second Time?]
I didn't regret watching it the first time, but I probably won't be watching it a second time.
Reviewer Score: 6