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Black & White Episode 1:
The Dawn of Assault
  |     review    |     notes     |     availability     |      
Black and White Episode 1: The Dawn of Assault

Huang Bo and Mark Chao buddy up in Black and White Episode 1: The Dawn of Assault.
  Chinese: 痞子英雄首部曲: 全面開戰
Year: 2012  
Director: Tsai Yueh-Hsun  
  Producer Tsai Yueh-Hsun, Yu Hsiao-Hui
  Writer: Tsai Yueh-Hsun, Kelly Chen
  Action: Li Chung-Chi, Cyril Raffaelli
  Cast:

Mark Chao, Huang Bo, Angelababy, Terri Kwan Wing, Leon Dai, Alex To Tak-Wai, Jack Kao, Ken Lin, Dean Fujioka, Dino Acconci, Julio Acconci, Lin Yu-Chih, Fox Hsu, Hsiu Chieh-Kai, George Wu, Matt Wu, Hsia Ching-Ting, Mountain, Jason Tsou, Chien Te-Men

  The Skinny: An entertaining and stupid buddy action movie from Taiwan that's no worse than some of the crap that you accept from Hollywood. And hey, it has Huang Bo so it automatically earns some cred. Still, it's waaaaay too long.
   
Review
by Kozo:

Megabudget buddy action film Black & White Episode 1: The Dawn of Assault entertains despite being overlong, ridiculous and gratuitous. A needless prequel to hit Taiwan TV drama Black & White, Dawn of Assault features only one of the TV drama’s two popular leads. Vic Chou sits out the prequel (rumors have suggested friction behind the scenes), leaving everything to Mark Chao as Ying-Xiong Wu, a prototypical angry cop who breaks all the rules because that’s what a Cop Who Breaks All the Rules™ does. Befitting his unimaginative name, Ying-Xiong (which translates to “Hero”) is a character cliché: a rogue detective who’s so righteous in his pursuit of justice that he probably gets medals for his insubordination. Ying-Xiong’s only definition is that he’s played with suitable intensity by the overacting Chao. Ying-Xiong isn’t a character — he’s a template.

Ying-Xiong’s cookie-cutter character is fitting, because Dawn of Assault is itself a template: of an overblown and nonsensical commercial actioner. Director-writer Tsai Yueh-Hsun, also overlord of the original Black & White TV series, doesn’t hide his Hollywood influences, offering a ridiculous story propped up by unremarkable buddy interplay and expensive set pieces not usually seen in a homegrown Taiwan film. Ying-Xiong’s supercop antics get him pulled from active investigations, but he’s drawn into a case anyway when he happens upon a dead body stowed in a car trunk. Numerous plot convolutions later, Ying-Xiong is branded a traitor to the law and sent on the run with gangster Dafu (Huang Bo), who borrowed (or stole) money from his triad to smuggle diamonds. However, the diamonds were a cover for something far more valuable, and Dafu is just a patsy for unknown nefarious forces.

Eventually said nefarious forces make themselves known, but their motives for chasing our heroes are as confusing as they are pointless. No less than five groups pursue Ying-Xiong and Dafu, from Ying-Xiong’s own comrades (many returning Black & White cast members ) and law-enforcement organization SIS (led by Alex To) to a knife-wielding psycho (variety show regular Ken Lin) and a pair of unhinged terrorists (Dino and Julio Acconci of the band Soler). Also figuring in are student hacker Fan Ning (Angelababy), cool underground broker Jabbar (Leon Dai) and gangster’s moll Hsiao-Ching (Terri Kwan), who’s the object of Dafu’s affections. The separate parties alternatively meet for blowout action and overly-forthcoming exposition, and through it all Huang Bo and Mark Chao exchange mildly amusing buddy banter. Plot twists occur because it’s cool for screenwriters to add plot twists to their scripts. I think I’ve seen this story before in a Mad Libs book.

While Dawn of Assault is completely unnecessary, it does earn points by not taking itself too seriously. There are lives and loyalties at stake, but those plot points are given a back seat to chase scenes, cackling baddies and an aerial climax right out of Airplane. Fight choreography (from Li Chung-Chi and Cyril Raffaelli) is creative and entertaining, while the pyrotechnic sequences impress simply because they’re large and lengthy. The action may be too big; Black & White obviously put its budget into its action, so if anything has to be cut, it should be story. But since so much exposition is required to explain what’s happening and you need the action to justify the budget — well, that’s how you end up with a 140-minute version of Rush Hour. Nobody should break the bank to make something this frivolous, but that’s exactly what Tsai Yueh-Hsun did.

Dawn of Assault is so overstuffed that it even features three codas during the end credits, one of which sets up the Black & White TV drama. Mark Chao does fine shouldering the load by his lonesome (apologies to Vic), and is greatly aided by the versatile and ever-effacing Huang Bo. Neither Angelababy nor Terri Kwan impress in their limited roles, but Soler steals all their scenes with a swaggering demeanor that’s perfectly suited to the onscreen ridiculousness. Pretty much everything in Dawn of Assault has been done before and done better, so it’s difficult to recommend as anything more than throwaway crap. The film also lacks the edgy or gritty qualities that Asian action aficionados prefer — though if we’re talking demographics, idol drama fans should be tickled by Mark Chao’s, well, Mark Chao-ness. The rest of us get Huang Bo, which speaks for itself. (Kozo, 2012)

   
Notes: • This review is based on the 140-minute International Version of the film.
• The 157-minute Extended Version available on Taiwan Blu-ray restores Ivy Chen Yi-Han to the film. Chen plays the same character that she did in the Black & White television drama.
Availability: DVD (Taiwan)
Region 3 NTSC
Deltamac (Taiwan) Co. Ltd
2-DVD Special Edition
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Mandarin Language Track
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English and Chinese subtitles
Various Extras
*Also Available on Blu-ray Disc
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