Reign of Assassins (2010) (DVD Review)
Directed By: Chao-Bin Su
Starring: Michelle Yeoh, Woo-sung Jung, Xueqi Wang
Rated: R/Region: 1/Widescreen/Number of disc: 1
Available From Anchor Bay
Produced by John Woo and Terence Chang, this epic martial arts action thriller promises to be FACE/OFF meets MR. AND MRS. SMITH. Set in ancient China, the film stars Michelle Yeoh as a skilled assassin who is on a mission to return the remains of a mystical Buddhist monk to their resting place. The remains are believed to hold a powerful secret. Along the way, she falls in love with a man named Jiang, whose father was killed by her gang. Unaware that he also is a trained martial artist, their love blossoms but tensions arise as the truth of her past unravels. Soon, a lethal triangle surfaces between her, Jiang and the team of assassins that are after the monk’s remains.
This is a movie that has been compared to both Face/Off and Mr. and Mrs. Smith, so if any of that sounds good to you I’d say this could be something you’ll want to check into seeing. Now, If you want your martial arts movie to be a hardcore martial arts buffet, then this may not be the right kind of movie for you. We have that here but that isn’t what this one is all about. It isn’t just a mindless karate feast. We have more to it than just that. Still, if you are fan Michelle Yeoh and are into good storytelling this could be a good option for you. The story and the acting are the best part of this one I think. Michelle Yeoh is pushing 50 and still looks as amazing as ever. I’m a big fan as I’ve already noted and I think this is a very good movie to look into if you are in the same boat. It is also good to see Woo back having something to do with movies on his home turf with the end results being a very good movie. Maybe not a great one, but a good one none the less.
If you want a breakdown of the story it goes like this: In ancient China, the enlightened Monk Bodhi journeyed from India to China. And such was his spiritual aura and such was his mastery of kung-fu that when he perished, rumors circulated that whosoever possesses and studies his remains will gain the secrets of the martial arts universe. But then the Monk Bodhi’s desiccated corpse was split into two halves. 800 years later (but still very much in ancient China), the story proper opens with the introduction of the Dark Stone guild, a team of elite assassins that had just procured one-half of what’s left of Monk Bodhi. Except that, it’s a fleeting possession. Shockingly, one of their own, the Dark Stone killer is known as Drizzle (Kelly Lin), steals away with the half and successfully vanishes, never mind the gnashing of teeth by the Dark Stone leader, the Wheel King and we also have bounties placed on Drizzle’s head. Fun plot, some action, but not just a Kung-Fu movie.