Bodyguards and Assassins (Shi yue wei cheng) - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Bodyguards and Assassins (Shi yue wei cheng) Reviews

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Super Reviewer
September 23, 2010
Is there such a thing as a historical-political-martial arts-thriller? If there wasn't before, there is now. Bodyguards and Assassin's is about a group of people struggling to protect a man crucial to the rebellion against the Qing Dynasty from a group of assassins sent to kill him. Great cast and the last part of the movie is pretty amazing, but I found a lot of the first half
to be boring. Maybe that's because I'm not familiar with the actual history behind the story, but Bodyguards & Assassins was just an "okay" movie to me.
Super Reviewer
½ September 17, 2011
My husband would tell you that he sat through the drama to get to the really good action parts. I loved the whole package. Excellently done!!
Super Reviewer
½ February 20, 2011
Highly awesome period action Hong Kong film. Powerful, logical and heartbreaking. This is about the assassination attempt of Dr Sun Yat Sen in Hong Kong. The first hour of this movie is entirely about setting up the characters, making you understand them and care about them. I really enjoyed this film has avoid to use mindless clichés, like ultimate fight of good vs. evil. Five 'bodyguard' characters were very brave for their life to fight over a group of assassins to protect the revolutionary Dr Sun Wen.
The acting is excellent all around, many of the actors are major stars, such as Donnie Yen, Nicholas Tse, Leon Lai, and Tony Leung Ka-Fai, but the film is an ensemble piece and each star disappears into their character, many of whom are playing against type. The action is top notch, as expected with Donnie Yen's involvement. Yen has a brutal fight with Cung Le that involves some very nice choreography and some parkour action as well.
Set, editing, camera work, action direction all become an integral part of this top-notch motion picture, which must be recognized as among the very best of Chinese language motion pictures in recent memory.
I highly recommend this one.
Super Reviewer
½ March 22, 2010
An engrossing film set in the turn of 20th Century China and Hong Kong. A local businessman enlists the aid of his employees, a giant monk, a drug addict Martial Arts Master and actress to protect a Japanese envoy sent to Hong Kong to help establish democracy in China and overthrow the murderous Manchu empire. His wife enlists the aid of the father of her daughter, a gambling addict, to also protect the envoy.

But the Manchu Queen has sent her legions of assassins to intercept the Envoy and kill him at all costs. The small group must protect the Envoy in his journey through Hong Kong preaching democracy.

A powerful movie, the first half sees the establishing of the background and characters, the various relationships and conflicts that arise which leads to final "Gauntlet" run. Towards the end, it becomes heart breaking and emotional, even though the Mission was completed, it was an insight into how many lives that were lost for history to begin. Of course, the Martial Arts is right in the second half, as it doesn't let up. But the movie is more storytelling than action.

A great cast led by the impressive Donnie Yen, Simon Yam, Tony Leung and comedy veteran Eric Tsang and supported by the liked of popular youngster Nicholas Tse, its another quality period piece,but it does lack that special something that would make it stand out... the concept and story just doesn't do it enough I think. Maybe its slow start could be an issue, because it is very un-Hong Kong, but in the end it was a successful result.

Ironically, looking at today, a movie like this could only have been a dream, as the message and fight for democracy wouldn't sit well with the reigning government of the PRC, hence why it was set in back in the day.

Something interesting to watch and think about, as it does show that the fight for freedom and liberty is everyone's responsibility, no matter who you are, a gambler, a drug addict, an exiled religious figure or even the son of a powerful businessman... or a businessman yourself.

Super Reviewer
½ January 30, 2010
Fun, that is when it's not trying to stuff the screen with patriotic sentimental melo-cliches. A good cast, but many characters are barely used, when the movie really gets it's thing right the interactions between the characters end up being highly enjoyable. But again, the annoying propaganda and hit-and-miss dramatic scenes just drag the whole thing and keeps it from being better.
Super Reviewer
½ December 13, 2009
Teddy Chen's Bodyguards and Assassins is a Hong Kong action adventure with a lot to remember.The story concept is exceptional and there are two parts to it, if broken at a high level. The first surrounds the recruitment and planning, while the second involves the execution. Both parts are successful at what they do, without any rushing. That is probably why the run time is 15 minutes past 2 hours.There are a ton of characters to follow, thus making the setup for each character, as well as the main plot line, a hefty number of minutes. Things are kept interesting and there isn't much drag to bog down the movie. The setup is all worth it as the final 50 minutes define the title of the movie in exciting fashion.The latter portion is where most of the action occurs. The martial arts choreography is decent, but the camera angles do need some work. It isn't a huge flaw because the martial arts isn't the centerpiece of this picture anyway.An all star cast fills up the faces of the major characters. Nicholas Tse, Tony Leung, and Wang Xue Qi deliver the better overall performances. Donnie Yen, Li Yu Chun, and Leon Lai carry the action.Bodyguards and Assassins may seem a bit long, but there is enough to fill it up. Get on a rickshaw and enjoy the ride.
½ January 27, 2012
Well, that was not what I expected. The trailer made it seem like a typical action kung-fu movie, but it's actually far from it. More historical socio-political drama. All the action depicted in the trailer occurs near the end. Not bad, not great. Different.
½ August 28, 2011
Although it is branded as such, this is not a Donnie Yen movie. Although it is branded as such, this is not a martial arts movie. It is a historical drama (epic, you can say) where the action scenes are mostly martial arts fights. This movie is really more of a "Dirty Dozen" movie, with a group of rag tag personalities tasked with a difficult mission.

For that, Donnie Yen is on equal footing as Leon Lai and former NBA (and CBA) player Mengk Bateer. They have roles that are fairly one pitch characters and serve a purpose for the climax. Lot's of other stars show up like Eric Tsang, Big Tony and a cameo to get the movie started for Jacky Cheung. However, the only real people you can say this movie showcases are Nicolas Tse and the guy who plays the son. And their stories are the best to follow. Also, Cung Le looks huge in this movie. Sure he doesn't have any scenes with Bateer, but he's not a big guy since his stats are clearly in the fighting profile, but he seems like a hulk in this movie. Must be that his bald cap is bigger than Yen's.

However, for the melodrama of this movie, the characters just seems too cartoonish. It make the drama hollow and there really are a lot of characters. It's not the greatest, not the worst. But for me, a disappointment.
½ April 21, 2010
I enjoyed it but it's not for everyone. Knowing a little bit about Chinese history [and Hong Kong actors] helps.
½ June 14, 2013
Although not usually a martial arts movie fan, this film appealed to me because of the length that let the character build up make you care about them before the action got started, and the historic setting let the message of the movie come through--the sacrifice so many were willing to make for the future of others. But the knowledge of history that tells you that this revolutionary dream didn't last very long and that it would be replaced by a new tyrannical monarchy of Communist leaders who would be even more repressive than the dynasties of emperors ever had been makes one feel depressed that such sacrifices in this case were really in vain.
February 8, 2013
Very dramatic and serious story about an important period in modern world history. The fight scenes are of course somewhat improbable, but nonetheless satisfying in a dramatic sense and on what may be termed a moral level.

Enjoy the fight scenes or not--they do in fact further the story--the narrative is compelling, the characters engaging and the tension very real. A satisfying ending to the story, which is, after all, based on historical events. A darned good film. Watch it.
December 23, 2012
This is NOT Hollywood type Kick-Ass. This is NOT an Arty House of Daggeers.
This is a historical drama with some neat kung-fu thrown in. Beautiful to look at. From the elegance of the costumes to the dirty streets in the ghetto.
Bodyguards and Assassins has charm, tragedy, drama, loyalty, respect, ignorance and more going for it. Slightly long but thoroughly enjoyable.
I was unaware of this part of Chinas history (boy do the English come off bad yet again) and I'm glad I watched it.
September 2, 2012
A movie whose most interesting feature is its English-translated title.
June 25, 2012
one of the best kung fu movies ever made!
June 18, 2012
Interesting and engaging political thriller with an exciting chase sequence unlike any I have seen. Unfortunately, like so many films of its kind, it is advertised as a non-stop fountain of martial arts action, which it is definitely not. This may be a disappointment for some viewers expecting another Ip Man or Fearless, and the complexity and instability of early 1900's Chinese politics make it slightly difficult for "western" viewers to relate. That said, this film is worth your time and should be given a chance. Rent it.
April 22, 2012
revolution needs blood & sacrifice...
March 2, 2012
Never thought the Nation which is famous for its martial arts will have such a deep history of its revolution which will make your heart to wrench.
February 12, 2012
Slam your head in a car door and you'll get about the same viewing experience as watching Bodyguards and Assassins.
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