Director: Teddy Chen
Cast: Donnie Yen, Leon Lai, Wang Xueqi, Nicholas
Tse, Tong Leung Ka-fai, Hu Jun, Simon Yam, Eric Tsang, Li
Yuchun, Fan Bing-bing, Zhou Yun, Wang Po-chieh, Mengke Bateer,
Michelle Reis, Xing Yu, Zhang Hanyu, Jacky Cheung
RunTime: 2 hrs 18 mins
Released By: Scorpio East Pictures, MediaCorp
Raintree Pictures and Golden Village Pictures
Rating: PG (Some Violence)
Official Website: http://www.bodyguardsandassassins.com
Day: 17 December 2009
City of Victoria (British Colony of Hong Kong) In the distance
of thirteen blocks, the one man who holds a nation’s
fate must survive relentless attempts on his life with only
five bodyguards to protect him. Against hundreds of assassins,
these men must put their courage to the test in order to protect
the hopes of millions in this perilous night even if it means
fighting to the death…
Things can never really go wrong when you have filmmaker Peter
Chan on board as a producer. The veteran of Hong Kong cinema
(the award winning director helmed the successful Comrades,
Almost a Love Story, Perhaps Love and The Warlords) knows
what works for the market, and what doesn’t. And this
is not to imply that he is all commercialism and no substance.
The ability to achieve a nice balance of fluff and stuff is
one main reason Chan is one successful filmmaker in Asia.
This time round, he ropes in director Teddy Chan (Wait 'Til
You're Older, The Accidental Spy), with one main objective:
To create one spectacular affair to wow viewers all around
it is with this, we get the self touted 'action packed blockbuster
of the year', and what a star studded affair it is.
Yen – an obvious choice because of his Ip Man fame.
Wang Xueqi – an experienced Mainland Chinese actor who
anchors the film. Tony Leung Ka Fai – he provides the
affirmative weight to the cast chemistry. Nicholas Tse –
another opportunity to hone his acting skills. Hu Jun –
another Mainland actor who is increasingly popular with the
masses, Eric Tseng – a familiar Hong Kong face always
helps. Li Yuchun – a very popular singer in Mainland
China would definitely boost the market. Fan Bing Bing –
an obligatory pretty face from Mainland China to soften the
mood. Mengke Bateer – the professional basketball player
from Inner Mongolia would help to pull in some fans too.
list doesn’t stop here. We’ve also got other notable
names like Leon Lai, Simon Yam, Jacky Cheung, Michelle Reis
and Zhang Hanyu (in cameo roles which are essentially important
to the story) in the mix. Indeed, listing all these actors
down almost seems like an exhausting task – imagine
what the casting director went through to pin down the cast?
pro Chinese story works for the production too: Revolutionary
leader Sun Yat Sen is arriving in Hong Kong, and the politically
dangerous trip requires a group of patriotic bodyguards who
will go all out to protect the man. And it is with this, the
138 minute movie is played out nicely like an action adventure.
impressive production values will awe you – Huge sets,
magnificent cinematography, rhythmic editing, engaging action
choreography, decent computer effects and emotionally charged
music score are all part of the equation to this recommended
movie. Sure, the storyline isn’t really considered innovative,
but the pompousness of a production like this doesn’t
need anything more.
fans would be pleased to know that there are some memorable
sequences showcasing Yen’s agile moves, all adrenaline
charged. Lai gets to be part of the fun too, but the Heavenly
King’s character design is just too awkwardly distracting
to hold ground. Celebrity Li’s foray is decent, as she
turns in an affecting performance as a revolutionary’s
daughter who gets involved in the turmoil. Other actors like
Tse, Leung and Hu may have to resort to makeup antics like
scars and blood to capture the audience’s attention,
but being capable and respectable actors already, this doesn’t
come off as exploitative.
there’s one name to look out for during the award season,
it has to be 63 year old Wang’s winning performance
as a merchant. Note to budding artistes: This is called acting.
Every subtle facial expression, eye movement or hand gesture
is indicative of the experienced actor’s skill to bring
out the intricate personality of the character. Though not
a key scene of the movie, watch out for the sequence where
the wealthy merchant agrees to propose on behalf of Tse’s
rickshaw puller character. Through some simple exchange of
words and actions, this scene stands out as the most poignantly
moving portion of the movie.
(An impressive ensemble piece with remarkable production
Review by John Li