Reign Of Assassins – A Waste Of Acting Royalty

Country: Hong Kong
Genre: Fantasy/ Action/ Martial Arts/ Romance
Director: Su Chao-Pin
Year: 2010

Rating: ★★½☆☆

WORTH A LOOK

Reign of Assassins might be the last wuxia film Michelle Yeoh is ever in. She is a precious resource, one of the most soulful and intelligent actresses in the world. Putting her in a business as usual flick meant to make a quick buck is nothing less than a crime, and that’s exactly what Reign Of Assassins is.

Zeng Jing (Michelle Yeoh) is an assassin who has turned her back on the martial arts world, going so far as to have facial surgery to change her appearance. She has also hidden half of the mummy of a martial arts master — it is reputed that whoever possesses both halves of the body will be able to divine martial arts secrets which would make that person invincible in battle.

The Wheel King (Wang Xue-Qi), who Zeng Jing used to work for, will stop at nothing to gain possession of the mummy, and is trying to track her down to get the half she has hidden.

When Zeng Jing marries an average citizen, Jiang Ah-Sheng (Jung Woo-Sung), she must fight to protect her new life.

All of that is a standard but workable concept for a decent movie. The problem is the casting, direction, martial arts choreography and the script.

First of all, if you are going to cast Michelle Yeoh, you’d better find someone charismatic to play opposite her, or the poor guy is going to get blasted off the screen, which is exactly what happens here.

Then, in a movie like Reign of Assassins, action is all important. Here, all you get is endless wire enhanced bullshit, which doesn’t even look elegant, unlike Yuen Wo-Ping’s work in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Also unlike that superb film, there is very little in the way of convincing martial arts here. With an actress like Michelle Yeoh, that’s criminal. I’m surprised at martial arts choreographer Stephen Tung, who has done much better work elsewhere, and ought to know better.

Writer/director Su Chao-Pin doesn’t help matters by constantly showing off with stupid director tricks, which already date the film, and don’t help to tell the story. This is called showing off and it’s retarded.

Finally, the script by Su Chao-Pin has no poetry and the plotting is lame. The pacing is listless.

Gosh, I’ve really eviscerated Reign Of Assassins. What is there to like about it?

Well, getting to watch Michelle Yeoh is almost enough. And to be fair, the movie improves as it goes along. The characters motivations get a little more interesting. And the sets and scenery are often magnificent, if you can ignore all the trendy and annoying camera movements.

Sigh.

Any way you stack it up, Reign Of Assassins is a major disappointment.

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