“A TENSE AND RIVETING PIECE OF ACTION CINEMA… IMPRESSIVE FIGHT SEQUENCES… BONE-CRUSHING VIOLENCE.” – TWITCH.
Winner of eight honours at the prestigious Hong Kong Film Awards ceremony, including Best Film, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor, Best Action Choreography, Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Best Costume and Make-up Design and Best Original Film Score, and the winner of the Best Actor (Wang Xueqi) and Best Supporting Actor (Nicholas Tse) prizes at this year’s Asian Film Awards, the epic, period action movie Bodyguards And Assassins is a dramatic fictionalized retelling of the suspenseful events of 1906 that eventually led to the 1911 Xinhai Revolution and the founding of the Republic of China.
Directed by Teddy Chan (The Accidental Spy) and featuring an impressive cast of Hong Kong and China’s biggest stars, including Donnie Yen (Ip Man; Kill Zone), Leon Lai (An Empress And The Warriors; Seven Swords), Xueqi Wang (Forever Enthralled; Warriors Of Heaven And Earth; The Red Suit), Tony Leung Ka Fai (Missing; The Myth), Nicholas Tse (Dragon Tiger Gate; New Police Story; The Medallion) and Simon Yam (Ip Man; Triangle), Bodyguards And Assassins is a sumptuously staged, action-packed blockbuster, full of political intrigue, tragedy and drama that will appeal as much to lovers of quality cinema as it will to martial arts aficionados.
On October 15th 1906, the man destined to become the Father of Modern China, Dr. Sun Yat-sen, is due to arrive in the British Colony of Hong Kong to discuss plans to overthrow the corrupt Qing Dynasty with a group of leading anti-Qing revolutionaries. Aware of Sun’s intentions, the Qing Court dispatches an elite army of assassins to the port where Sun is due to arrive, with orders to see to it that he never makes it to his appointment and does not leave the colony alive.
Receiving news of the proposed assassination, a newspaper editor and a local tycoon, both sympathetic supporters of the revolution, take it upon themselves to protect Dr. Sun at any cost. To help ensure his safety they recruit a motley band of fellow sympathisers, friends and acquaintances, all skilled in martial arts combat to act as Sun’s bodyguards. Additionally, they devise a risky plan to secretly replace the assassins’ target with a human decoy in an attempt to lead the killers away from their quarry.
As Sun arrives on the fateful day, the stage is set for a bloody confrontation in which a small group of selflessly courageous men and women will risk their lives fighting against hundreds of adversaries in a conflict that will determine the fate of millions.
Cleverly taking his time to establish his characters, their back-stories, motives and sub-plots in the deliberately paced first half of the film, director Chan expertly unleashes a barrage of non-stop, action set-pieces in a final hour that will leave viewers breathless.
Among the many standout sequences in a film that manages to be as emotionally involving and moving as it is exciting are a brilliantly directed sequence that echoes Brian De Palma’s homage (from “The Untouchables”) to Eisenstein’s famous Odessa Steps sequence from “Battleship Potemkin”, an extended free-running duel involving Donnie Yen and Cung Le, and a ‘man versus horse’ confrontation that is nothing short of jaw-dropping.
Bodyguards And Assassins will be released on DVD (£12.99) and Blu-ray (£19.99) by E1 Entertainment on 31st May 2010.