It is several hundred years B.C., the Warring States period, a time of constant strife between the seven kingdoms of China, and the mighty Zhao army is making its way towards its nemesis, the Yan kingdom. In the Zhao army’s way lies the small fiefdom of Liang, the central city of which cannot hope to withstand the fearsome Zhao onslaught. Their only hope lies with the nearby Mozi tribe, known far and wide for their particular skill at repelling sieges. As the flame of hope flickers at the edge of extinction, weaker hearts plead with the king of Liang to surrender, to throw the city’s population to the mercy of the Zhao leaders, for the Mozi will not send their warriors to help. But help from the Mozi has arrived at the city gates –- a single man, unarmoured and humbly garbed.
A truly impressive and resonant tale drawn from the deep, mythic well of Chinese history –- although surprisingly, adapted from a Japanese manga, and popular novel before it –- A Battle of Wits earned another Hong Kong Film Award nomination for its director, three-time winner Jacob Cheung. At the outset, it presents itself simply as a classic siege film, with the determined Mozi man Ge Li (ably played by the renowned Andy Lau) leading the defense with wisdom, cunning and discipline. But it soon unfolds into something far more substantial, not only in the way it unflinchingly presents the cruel realities of a siege and of all warfare of that era, and picks apart the machinery of human weakness and treachery, but in how it explores the impulses that underlie Ge Li’s decisions, a profound humanitarianism that in application is severe and even painfully counterintuitive. This brings an unusual poignancy to the tragically stifled romance between Ge Li and the pretty, plucky young cavalry chief Yi Yue (Fan Bingbing, previously a delight as Princess Meiyan in A Chinese Tall Story, Fantasia 2006).
“A unique experience quite unlike those provided by other war epics. It’s smart, beautifully executed, and completely captivating” – Chris Nelson, DREAMLOGIC.NET
“See what happens when Hero meets Platoon or Full Metal Jacket. A Battle of Wits is that significant…” - Lee Alon, HONG KONG CINEMAGIC
WINNER: Best Film Editing, 2007 HONG KONG FILM AWARDS
Director: Jacob Cheung
Screenplay: Jacob Cheung, from Ken'ichi Sakemi, Hideki Mori
Cast: Andy Lau,
Choi Si Won
Producers: Jacob Cheung, Huang Jian Xin, Lee Joo-Ick, Satoru Iseki