Black & White: The Dawn of Assault Blu-ray Review

     Actors: Mark Chao, Ken Lin
  • Director: Yueh-Hsun Tsai
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: Cantonese
  • Subtitles: Cantonese
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Shout! Factory
  • Release Date: August 4, 2015
  • Run Time: 142 minutes



            The Taiwanese buddy cop TV series “Black & White” ran for a successful season in 2009, followed by this 2012 prequel film and a subsequent sequel. Although Black & White: Dawn of Assault is the first to be made available in the States, no previous knowledge of the franchise is entirely necessary for its enjoyment. At its core, this is simply a blockbuster popcorn film that doesn’t require a great deal of thought, but is heavily rewarding in terms of spectacle. The only reason the previously established television series is significant has to do with the amount of chemistry that the cast already has with each other.


            As a prequel, The Dawn of Assault offers the starting point of the series’ central partnership between maverick cop Ying-xiong Wu (Mark Chao) and low level gangster Xu Dafu (Bo Huang). After crashing an illegal deal that is meant to be Dafu’s retirement plan, Wu finds himself caught up in a larger conspiracy with the criminal as his only ally. A briefcase of stolen diamonds ends up containing something a lot more dangerous, and there are several groups of organized criminals willing to do anything to get their hands on it. Even the police force has been infiltrated, forcing Wu to trust Dafu alone in stopping the criminals from using new weapon technology against their home town, Harbour City.


            The Dawn of Assault seems modeled after Hollywood blockbusters, both in the predictable buddy-cop narrative and its reliance on large action sequences peppered with humorous one-liners and reaction shots. Much of this Taiwanese interpretation is unmistakably familiar, though there are a few sequences of bad CGI effects which must be overcome. All of the hand-to-hand fighting, gunplay and car chase sequences are excellently done, but a sequence with a helicopter at the beginning of the film and another with an airplane in the film’s climax remind us that special effects are still somewhat sub-par outside of Hollywood studios. Ironically, the other weak aspect of the film comes in the form of the English-speaking villains, whose acting is painful for those who understand the language. It makes you wonder about the foreign-language-speaking villains in Hollywood films. Thankfully, these moments are minimal in Dawn of Assault, and often overshadowed by the effective banter between the stars.


            It may have taken some years for this film to be released internationally, but hopefully this Blu-ray will prove successful enough to warrant the sequel, if not the television series. The special features include a generic making-of featurette and a theatrical trailer.


    Entertainment Value: 8.5/10

    Quality of Filmmaking: 7/10

    Historical Significance:  6.5/10

    Special Features: 6/10

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