The Silent War | Movie Release, Showtimes & Trailer | Cinema Online
Movie Details

The Silent War

Adapted from the novel "Year Suan/Plot Against" by May Jia, "The Silent War" is set in 1950s, where the China Republic Government has just been established. There are revolutionists in different parts of China seeking chances to revolt and chaos is just around the corner. 701 Headquarters, which consists of Inspection, Interpretation and Operation departments, are set up to intercept telegraphs related to the rebel conspiracy. Chang Xue-ning is one such government agent. She is sent back to 701 Headquarters as her identity has been compromised in Hong Kong. Her new mission is to seek for someone with superb aural comprehension. She targets Luo San-er, a piano tuner, but as it turns out she had brought in Luo`s personal assistant, He Bing in instead. Bing is uncivilized and blind but his hearing is so splendid that can even hear the wind. Is he strong enough to be the saviour in this silent war?

Language: Cantonese
Subtitle: NA
Classification: P13
Release Date: 10 Aug 2012
Genre: Thriller
Running Time: 1 Hour 59 Minutes
Distributor: GSC MOVIES
Cast: Tony Leung Chiu-Wai, Zhou Xun, Mavis Fan
Director: Alan Mak
Format: 35MM

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Review
Writer: Elaine Ewe

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Watch this if you liked: "Infernal Affairs", "Initial D", "Confessions Of Pain" and "Overheard"

Alan Mak reteams with "Infernal Affairs" and "Confessions Of Pain" star Tony Leung Chiu-Wai for the political thriller "The Silent War", which centres around a blind piano tuner named He Bing (Tony Leung), whose crass ways belies a hidden aptitude for sounds. In the 1950s, the newly established China Republic Government faces threats of revolutionists seeking chances to revolt, which leads to the setup of 701 Headquarters, to decipher conspiracies through telegraph channels. However, one day in October, all of a sudden, the enemy shut down 126 military channels for 30 hours, and after hours, when they tune back the channels, only daily news is being broadcasted. Desperate, Chang Xue-ning (Zhou Xun), is sent to seek for Luo San-er, a master piano tuner, only to discover that it is Luo's personal assistant, He Bing, that helped him built up his reputation.

Leung's portrayal of He Bing resembles Simon Baker's portrayal of Patrick Jane is CBS' "The Mentalist". For those reading this who do not know, Patrick Jane is a former "psychic" who becomes a consultant to the fictional California Bureau of Investigation (CBI), using the highly developed observational skills he previously employed to "read" peoples' minds after a tragedy. Like Baker, Leung's He Bing is self-assured and cocky, yet he does not come off as exasperating, but endearing. When you pay for the admission ticket for "The Silent War", you are not paying to watch an Alan Mak film; you are paying to watch Tony Leung exert his charisma and skills over you, to laugh when he arrogantly shows of his skills, childishly sulks when he is rebuffed by his lady love and greedily make bargains with 701 Operatives. An actor who has won nine Hong Kong Film Awards and three Golden Horse Best Actor awards, Leung is Asia's Clark Gable who put his genius in acting since the 1990s, and it shows profoundly in "The Silent War", considering the film's narrative lack of presence.

It cannot be said that "The Silent War" is for lack of trying, but therein lies the problem. The film tries too hard to be the political thriller that "Infernal Affairs" was, but the latter has the advantage of an ensemble cast that consists of Hong Kong's top four actors, Andy Lau, Tony Leung Chiu-Wai, Eric Tsang and Anthony Wong. "The Silent War" only has Tony Leung, Zhou Xun and Mavis Fan. Thankfully, what is there for "The Silent War" does not do too shabbily. Alan Mak tries his best to craft "The Silent War" into a departure of stereotype, such as giving He Bing a life outside of his interest with Chang Xue-Ning, changing the title from "The Windseeker" to "The Silent War" to sound less cheesy and more metaphoric, and inserting a twist towards the end, although more detail and background on Zhou Xun and Mavis Fan's character would have been welcome. We never got to learn why Chang Xue-Ning acted the way she did with He Bing, nor do we get more acting out of Mavis Fan beyond her eager, kind and understanding persona. On the other hand, you'd be hard-pressed to complain about their acting in the film and chemistry like that between Tony Leung and Zhou Xun is not easy to come by.


Alan Mak has demonstrated that he could do cinematography as well as the other Hong Kong director after "Infernal Affairs", "Initial D", "Confessions Of Pain" and "Overheard", and he does not disappoint either in "The Silent War". While almost every shot in the film is praiseworthy, the best have got to be his framing of Zhou Xun and Tony Leung's walk in the forest, two lone figures surrounded by greenery. Another scene would be how the final act revolving He Bing is built up, through faded and fuzzy overlaying scenes that incite us viewers to think instead of straight-out assuming we are stupid.

A great disappointment by the "Infernal Affairs" man's high standards, but for everyone else, "The Silent War" is a visually striking film, that which the price of admission is more than justified by Hong Kong's 'It' man, Tony Leung Chiu-Wai's charisma and performance.

Cinema Online, 09 August 2012
   
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Classification
U - General viewing for all ages
P13 - Parental guidance is advisable for children below 13 years old
18 - For 18+ with elements for mature audiences
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