7 ASSASSINS (光辉岁月) DVD (2013)
SYNOPSIS: When social unrest plagues a Kingdom in ancient China, the Imperial Court collects stockpiles of gold from local governments to expand the royal army. However, the gold is robbed while in transport. In a desperate move to retrieve the stolen treasure, elite royal guards are sent on a mission to go after the gold but soon find out they are not the only ones in pursuit of it.
A throwback to the heydays of Hong Kong action cinema, 7 Assassins stars a slew of familiar faces and also a familiar plot to those seeking a slice of nostalgia.
With the aim of overthrowing the corrupted Qing government, the leader of the rebels, Tieyun (Felix Wong) and his followers are robbed by a gang of horse thieves of their gold while on their way to purchase ammunition for the rebellion. It turns out the horse thieves are working for the Prince Highness (Ray Lui). Tieyun is subsequently advised by a good-hearted Governor Zhou (Ti Lung) to seek refuge at a secluded village, Golden Canyon led by Master Mao (Eric Tsang).
As expected, Tieyun’s whereabouts are quickly discovered and the Qing soldiers are sent on a massacre to bring back Tieyun to the custody of the Prince Highness. However in the grand tradition of Seven Swords and Kung Fu Hustle, the seemingly harmonious Golden Canyon is actually inhibited by recluse martial-arts masters and ex-militants and to lay hands on Tieyun, one needs to first bypass the village of heroes.
Directed by Xiong Xin Xin (who played Clubfoot Seven in Once Upon A Time In China III), 7 Assassins is a clumsily clobbered movie that is set against the backdrop of every Chinese screenwriter’s favourite topic, the heroic revolution that leads to the events of 1911 (Jackie Chan has a movie on this as well if you recall but I’m not recommending that). On the bright side of things, it’s more of an action movie than a politically correct one. The rebellion against the Qing government is merely a great excuse to showcase gunfights, horses falling and frequent old school wire works. It’s the year 2014 but everyone still fight liked it’s 1984!
This is not to say I despised Xiong’s choice of choreographing the action. In fact, the man not only directs but he has a substantial role here as well. The pacing is ridiculously fast for the first 40 minutes before everyone takes a break for some need be exposition and romance between Gigi Leung and Eric Tsang’s characters. Come on, give Gigi Leung a chance to showcase her acting.
Xiong’s co-star in Once Upon A Time In China III, Max Mok and Mainland actor Guo Tao (Drug War) made up the more prominent faces fighting against the evil Highness. If you are acquainted with Hong Kong action cinema in the 70s, 80s and 90s, this is where it’s starts to get fun. Try spotting Shaw martial arts star Chen Kuan Tai and Pai Piao in cameos and many more for a start. Hey even Michael Wong has a role as Pastor Peter, he is really prolific these days.
7 Assassins is a very enjoyable and entertaining movie that hark back to the old days where things are a lot simpler. Production values are top-notched and come free with unlimited explosions and star appearances. The rolling credits also come with a classic Beyond song just to make sure it ends on the right note. How thoughtful.
Audio is presented with a choice of Cantonese and Mandarin dialogue. Sound effects are serviceable but come across stronger when it comes to horses galloping and explosions. There’s noticeable softness in images though hardly a distraction.
DVD RATING :
Review by Linus Tee