Reign of Assassins (2010)

Posted in Reviews by - May 30, 2012
Reign of Assassins (2010)

Newbie director Su Chao-bin, who first cut his teeth on horror-led fare like 2006’s Silk, receives high-concept tutelage from action veteran John Woo in this surprisingly accurate homage to the sort of Shaw Brothers pulp that Gu Long used to thrash out: dramatic storytelling, a thousand characters, clunking big weapons and treacherous double-crossing. The villain even wears a hood and disguises his voice. You would maybe expect something a bit more sophisticated from Woo, who may have lost his way in recent times, but can still turn an action scene into something resembling poetry. Michelle Yeoh is effortlessly engaging, slipping back into her familiar Crouching Tiger guise as a Ming Dynasty assassin hanging up her swords to live a quiet life of domesticity with her hapless, docile husband. But her retirement is short-lived. The twisted head of an assassins’ guild wants the decomposing remains of the Indian monk, Bodhidharma – said to possess healing and regenerative qualities, which is clearly a bit weird – and the film is soon besieged by dueling swords.

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