The White Dragon US Theatrical Release: None (Hong Kong release: October 28, 2004) (Sony Pictures) US DVD Release: December 20, 2005 Running Time: 1:32:39 (28 chapter stops) Rating: PG-13 (Martial Arts Violence) Video: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Audio: English DD5.1, French DD5.1, Cantonese DD5.1 Subtitles: English, French, Portuguese, Spanish TV-Generated Closed Captions: English Menus: Not animated Packaging: Standard keepcase; insert features cover images of other Sony titles. MSRP: $24.96 THE WAY I FEEL ABOUT IT: 2.5/5 Somewhere on the Wu Xia Continuum between Kung Fu Hustle and House Of Flying Daggers lies The White Dragon, which combines traditional kung fu action with thoroughly silly comedy. It’s entertaining enough, but doesn’t have enough humor to be a great comedy or enough fighting to be a great martial arts flick. Phoenix (Cecilia Cheung) is a pretty but otherwise unexceptional young woman who spends her time attending school and hanging around with her girlfriends. (Said girlfriends have been strategically selected to be less good-looking than Phoenix in order to enhance her beauty. This helps her catch the eye of China’s Most Eligible Bachelor, Prince Tian Yang (Andy On).) This being a Wu Xia adventure, of course, that is all about to change. One fateful night, the famed blind assassin Chicken Feathers (Francis Ng) appears at Phoenix’s school. He has “business” with the headmaster. No sooner is that concluded than Chicken Feathers is confronted by The White Dragon, who has been secretly waiting for him undercover. The Dragon and Chicken (pork fried rice extra with that) battle, but the Dragon is old and not the warrior she used to be. She winds up getting tossed through a roof – Phoenix’s roof. The White Dragon convinces Phoenix to, um, “download” her kung fu powers and continue her quest for justice. Before long, Phoenix is taking Dragon’s Robin-Hood advice perhaps a bit too seriously, stealing random valuables from the random rich and redistributing them to the random poor. It is only a matter of time before Phoenix takes up Dragon’s struggle against Chicken Feathers. This is where the de rigueur bamboo forest throwdown comes into play. Unfortunately, even with the powers of The White Dragon, Phoenix is no match for the master killer, and she is injured. Chicken Feathers, enamored of Phoenix’s flute-playing, takes her home with him and nurses her back to health. Over time, the sworn enemies grow to respect and even care for one another. The magic of Phoenix’s flute helps Chicken Feathers to “see” things as never before, and his kindness despite her youthful petulance gradually breaks through her tough skin. Chicken Feathers is just lonely and misunderstood -- a dangerous love triangle could be developing here! A little romance, a few laughs, and, naturally, a climactic kung fu free-for-all ensue. The White Dragon has its moments, but really isn’t anything special. There are fewer than a half-dozen fight scenes, none of which will especially impress anyone familiar with the classics of the genre. There is a fair amount of comedy, but it’s very kooky and will mainly appeal to folks who appreciate a Chinese sense of humor. If you dig Stephen Chow, then you’ll get it. Don’t expect anything that matches his best work, though (with the possible exception of a three-second appearance by a character named Eunuch Chan, who has no lines but makes a face that defies description). THE WAY I SEE IT: 3/5 The picture quality is decent. Detail is OK. Colors are mostly good, although things seem to take on an orangy tint now and then. Some artifacts can be seen in scenes with backgrounds of swaying grain. Edge enhancement is occasionally visible, but isn’t much of a problem. THE WAY I HEAR IT: 4/5 The soundtrack is nicely immersive, with a good amount of LFE to give it punch. Most of the rear-channel action comes from the music mix, but there are some surround effects as well. The English and Cantonese tracks are fairly similar. The English track is hotter and has incidental music in a few places where the Cantonese track doesn’t. The English dub actors are over-the-top in best chop socky form, but the subtitles, which clearly were not written by a native English speaker, are pretty amusing too. Either the dub or the subtitles are good for a chuckle. THE SWAG: 0.5/5 (rating combines quality and quantity) Trailers When the disc is first inserted, the trailers for Black Dawn, The Net 2.0, and Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children play automatically. They may be skipped. Black Dawn (1:14) (DD2.0; 1.78:1 non-anamorphic) The Net 2.0 (1:21) (DD2.0; 1.78:1 non-anamorphic) Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children (2:26) (DD2.0; 1.78:1 non-anamorphic) Mirrormask (1:09) (DD2.0; 1.85:1 non-anamorphic) SUMMING IT ALL UP The Way I Feel About It: 2.5/5 The Way I See It: 4/5 The Way I Hear It: 3.5/5 The Swag: 0.5/5 The White Dragon will provide a decent fix for genre fans, but it’s not likely to win over any new converts. It’s funny but not hilarious, and the action is workmanlike rather than eye-popping. The A/V presentation is fine, so those looking for something to tide them over until the next Bride With White Hair or House Of Flying Daggers could certainly do worse. On the other hand, folks who aren’t really into this sort of thing are probably better off watching something else.