Jianyu (Reign of Assassins) Reviews
Over all movie is very entertaining, action sequences are very well choreographed. The suspense is well kept and story progresses with interest. However character development is weak. Chemistry between both leads could have been better. The romance which we see in the end could not blossom in the start. Perhaps Michelle Yeoh could have work on her passionate expressions. Rest of the cast did their job very well.
Cinematography and editing is good. It could be felt that an american handled much of movie's work as the story paces very fast even though it was set in old times. Added action has taken much of the movie's soul out which is common with John Woo's movies.
A good entertainer with blend of fast pacing story and brilliant wushu action.
I quite enjoy this movie but I didn't know what was going on towards the end. The sword action is great because the director didn't go overboard with the string action and the basis of the storyline was well written but once the characters true identity starts to unfold, it became a bit of a mess. Its about a legendary Buddhist Monk, called Bodhi whose mummified remains are believed to have mystical powers. One half of the remains are in Prime Minister Zhang's hands, so the Dark Stone gang send out there assassins to kill him and his son, Renfeng. The top assassin for the Dark Stone gang, Drizzle (Michelle Yeoh) steals the remains and flees the scene. On that same night, when Drizzle was trying to get out of town, she comes across Renfeng on a bridge, whose seeking revenge for the murder of his father, so she kills him and comes across a monk, Wisdom (Calvin Li) who demonstrates to Drizzle that her sword skills have four fatal flaws, which could be her downfall if she comes against a master. After 3 months of living together, Wisdom attempts to make Drizzle leave her assassin life behind but she ends up killing him, leaving her with guilt and sorrow. She then goes to a famous surgeon so she can change her appearance and pursue a new life as Zeng Jing. After the surgery she becomes a cloth merchant and she marries the village messenger Ah-seng (Jung Woo-sung). The Dark Stone gang recruit a new assassin, Turquoise who has no remorse and due to be killed after killing her fiance and in-laws on her wedding night. As there still on the hunt for Drizzle, they send out there top assassin, Fatty Chen, who is mysteriously murdered, so there head leader, the Wheel King, goes on the hunt for her. During a bank robbery in there village, Zeng Jing saves her husbands life, which reveals her old identity to the Dark Stone gang because of her unique sword skills. When the Dark Stone gang finally come face to face with Drizzle, they offer to spare her and her husbands life, if she gives up her half of the remains and helps them find the other half, so she agrees to there terms. When the Dark Stone collects all of the remains, the gang refuse to let her go and they end up turning on each other. After a big sword fight, Drizzle returns home, badly wounded, in front of her husband. 2 of the Dark Stone assassins follow her and come face to face with her husband, who surprises them with a pair of Cen-Ci swords, which were used by Renfeng. After defeating the assassins, he takes his wife to the surgeon to help her with her fatal wounds. We then see that her husband is really Renfeng, who didn't die from Drizzle's sword on the bridge and has also had surgery to change his appearance. When Drizzle finds out the truth, Ah-seng tells her that there relationship is over because of what she and the Dark Stone gang had done to his family. Although he wants to kill her, he obviously has true feelings for her so he just tells her to leave. Meanwhile, the Wheel King tries to use his new powers to correct his castration, that happened when he was a boy and when Turquoise finds out his defect whilst seducing him, the Wheel King gets angry and buries her alive under a bridge. He then gets a signal from Drizzle who has decided to engage him in a final battle at a graveyard. When he arrives, he sees Renfeng dead and he starts to fight Drizzle, who uses the technique that she was taught by Wisdom to defeat him. As Drizzle used a special drug to make her husband seem dead, so he could witness her defeat the Wheel King, he sees that she is badly wounded but still alive and he carries her home. Confusing, but detailed and well put together. One of the biggest let downs for this movie is the subtitles, which were going at the speed of light. I'm sure I would have enjoyed the movie much more if I knew what they were saying. With that aside the whole look and feel of the movie was impressive and the actors put in good performances, especially Michelle Yeoh. The love story was sweet and the scenery was authentic but they over complicated the storyline. Watchable!
This movie was directed by Chao-Bin Su who brought you Silk in 2006 and B.T.S. (Better Than Sex) in 2002. He hasn't got a lot of experience behind the camera but he had the help of John Woo, who produced the movie. Personally, I think he done a good job with this film, even though it made a lose at the box office but I would have liked it to be dubbed.
Worldwide Gross: $13million
I recommend this movie to people who are into their action movies starring Michelle Yeoh, Woo-Sung Jung, Xueqi Wang, Shawn Yue and Kelly Lin. 5/10
Whilst it doesn't possess the gravitas of Crouching Tiger nor achieve the same level of visual brilliance it is still a solid film. The fight choreography is superb, including several tightly structured battles that can simultaneously bewilder and entertain. The weapons involved are one of a kind (bendy swords and deadly needles) and the actors wielding them clearly possess the physical discipline to accompany these vicious and elegant blades. It is a relief that characters are not sacrificed amidst flurry of kicks and punches, each unique in their own way and providing an entertaining support for Yeoh's titular assassin.
Sporting a particularly malevolent villain (and a unique one at that), the film manages to balance it's lighter moments with drops of sheer brutality and it is relief that neither are too heavy handed to weigh the film into exhausting melodrama.
It is, however, unfortunate to note that the film never really reaches a moment to inspire awe or the sublime. It keeps everything relatively safe and whilst that isn't a bad thing it feels slightly wasted with the awesome characters and their relationships with one another.
Overall I do think this film is worth a look, mainly for its exceptional fight choreography, fantastic antagonist and the elegant Michelle Yeoh, who possesses the grace, ferocity and a subtle tenderness that raises this film above the mediocrity that could've threatened to swallow it up.
3 Yuan Wu Pings