Review: Reign of Assassins (2010)

Text by Loong Wai Ting

Reign of Assassins was by far one of the best wuxia films since Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, I kid you not. It somehow reminds me of the olden days, where we are so used to watching swordsmen flying from one rooftop to another, while brandishing their 18-style of swordplay.

While Reign of Assassins resembled Ching Siu-Tung’s Swordsman in many ways with that certain flair from Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, the plot, though is fresh and it has been a while since we last watched such action movies as exciting as Reign of Assassins. The movie sort of goes back to wuxia’s roots, where the plot revolves tightly around the Chinese philosophy and relationship.

Surprisingly enough, there were less of the predicted bloodbath shticks, given that the movie dwells into the nature of an assassins’ job as compared to Tsui Hark’s Seven Swords.

The film works in many levels, without relying too much on heavy CGI effects. There were also less fancy shots to go ‘gaga’ over. Everything is made straight to the point, yet it left a long-lasting impression on the audiences mind. The story is full of fantasy, almost like bringing a wuxia comic to life. The dialogue is tight –careful not to exhaust the corny lines in the script. The movie was also subtle, making sure it doesn’t come off as trying too hard to impress.

Reign of Assassins has little to disappoint for die-hard wuxia fans. Director, Su Chao-Bin and co-director John Woo has to rely very little on the visual effects to bring forth the action. To make it all happen, they had international action superstar, Datuk Michelle Yeoh to make the magic happen. The chemistry between all the actors was good, if not great.

We can practically feel for the characters, as each of them played their parts flawlessly. Reign of Assassins is in many ways a must-watch movie of the year. If you’re into wuxia comic or movie, this premise is definitely a visual treat for all. The movie is intense from the beginning till the end and is done nicely with commendable kung fu fighting à la Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. The movie definitely ended with a bang, with its unexpected plots, twists and turns.