We are conditioned to expect an action movie with stunning, but gravity defying stunts with a non-existent plot when you mention an Asian movie. Although the above statement is primarily due to our stereotyping, there are great movies that do come out of this part of the world. Battle of Wits, directed by Jacob Cheung and starring Andy Lau, is one of those which gets the right kind of publicity.
The movie opens in 370 BC. At this time, China is not united but under different warlords fighting each other for their personal agenda. The movie is about a siege. Liang, a city-state is under a siege. Although Liang is not a formidable city-state, it comes in between the fight for supremacy between two states - Zhao and Yan. When the movie begins, the rule of Liang is ready to surrender to Zhao forces who are on their way to a bigger battle. When a lone Mozi warrior Ge Li(Andy Lau) turns up, the city-state decides to fight back. This exercise is indeed a battle between David and Goliath. At the same time, it is also a battle of wits.
Jacob Cheung does get preachy about the Mozi philosophy while telling this story. Frankly, I was not able to find anything new in the philosophy that is mostly about universal love. Aren't most of the philosophies based on universal love? The other reason for distraction is the action piece. The grand scale used by Jacob Cheung is breathtaking. He tells us how the war is fought in a clear way. By doing so, he also depicts the human ego in a subtle yet pronounced way. The rulers are worried about their prestige while commoners are worried about existence. All these facets are beautifully captured.
You will not find gravity defying stunts. Instead, you will find how a war is won with limited resources and intelligent strategies. David wins here against the Goliath. But how does he win? In order to find it out, you will have to see the movie.
You will find more about the movie here.