Action films are awesome.
There’s few things as pleasurable as sinking into the chair in a film and getting ready for two hours of people who dodge bullets, survive unimaginable disasters, and can kickbox the crapola out of anyone.
I didn’t actually intend to see Black and White: The Dawn of Justice. I wanted to see Crimson Whale, an animated apocalyptic dystopia film. I went to the wrong theatre and didn’t really catch on when the audience started meowing in excitement for what was to come. Incidentally, I didn’t know meowing became a thing among film geeks… but there we are. As the opening credits continued, I realized I’d walked right into the wrong film.
And yet, Black and White turned out to be so much the right film. Not because it’s a great art piece (except in a CGI way) or wildly creative. This is a big, blockbuster special-effects beast from Taiwan. I spent two hours cheering, laughing and enjoying myself. Movies… enjoyable… that’s what they’re supposed to be.
Plot? It’s confusing. There are secret government plans gone awry, a pregnant woman, an elite group of military fighters and an elite group of ex-military fighters, father-son vengeance, and all kinds of things heaped. But mostly, it focuses on stopping a Luddite-minded bad guy with long hair who takes his sunglasses off whenever he’s engaged in a conversation of seriousness. His evil plan is to isolate the island of Harbour City, first by destroying its access routes, then wiping out all electronic communication, and finally unleashing a superbug that is being harvested in a very unlikely place. He sends creepy videos that seems well beneath his own technological reach to the mayor and other officials, telling them how his black plague will birth a renaissance.
One man takes on the super-villain: Wu Ying-xion (Mark Chao), never-by-the-rules cop. He survives a ridiculous car chase only to reunite with his criminal buddy from the last film, Xu Da-fu (Huang Bo). Da-fu makes Wu promise that he will locate his wife, who is being held hostage by the supervillan. While Wu would probably go it alone, he is forced to endure a smug co-companion Chen Zhen (Lin Gengxin).
The plot is flimsy and there are holes and leaps and jumps in the same way the characters backflip in the middle of a gun battle. However, the plot is really just a vehicle for some awesome fight scenes, car chases, building and bridge collapses, and some action-movie banter. The stock characters like the geeky tech guy at the police station and the young female cop who joined the force because of the hero are the source of some good laughs. When the police station tech guru is badly injured and asked if there’s everything he needs, he answers “a computer.”
The big action sequences are fun and completely unbelievable with lots of explosions. Who cares. More interesting, I guess, is that the taboo of showing a 9/11 type of plane into building crash is less in movie consciousness. What partially fascinates me is the disregard for all the human fatalities caused by a single disaster, paired with these rather warm moments of saving specific individuals who are irrelevant to the the plot.
All in all, I was thoroughly entertained. Not every action film needs to be arty and deep with backstories that make sense. Sometimes just watching the good guy get the bad guy is plenty good.
Black and White: The Dawn of Justice played at Fantasia.