Movie Review: Bodyguards and Assassins


Donnie Yen vs. horse


This is a late movie review. Since most people have already watched this movie, I will convey about my expectation and disappointment instead of the typical run-of-the-mill, almost spoilers-free movie review that I typically write.

This movie is about Donnie Yen. It stars Donnie Yen as Donnie Yen doing what Donnie Yen does best. Yup, I am watching this movie purely to watch Donnie Yen fighting. The rest of the movie is just fluffs.


Donnie Yen is about to kick ass

There is a side plot about some politician called Dr Sun Yat-sen that needs protection from assassins. Apparently, this plot is based on historical event; an historical event so significant that there was no mention of Dr Sun visiting Hong Kong in 1906 on Wikipedia. He did visit Singapore sometime around that era but then again, there is no Donnie Yen in Singapore, so we'll be missing the point of this movie.

Anyway, Dr Sun was planning to overthrown the Qing Dynasty in China and plans to visit Hong Kong to sign an agreement for the 1911 Revolution. Therefore, the royal house of China have no choice but to sent 1000 Chinese ninjas dressed in black to kill Dr Sun in broad daylight. Somehow, the good guys in Hong Kong, newspaper editor Tony Leung Ka Fai and Kuomintang general Li Yutang got news of this not-so-subtle information in 4 days prior to Dr Sun arrival. They decided to hire the best martial artist of that China can offer to combat the ninjas.

The 4 days prior to Dr Sun's visit is used to recruit 4 martial artists. Firstly, we are introduced to Donnie Yen as Donnie Yen, a righteous policeman cum martial artist that happened to be passing along. Next is Leon Lai, a wandering beggar cum iron-fan martial artist that happened to be passing along. Then, there is Yao Ming, an NBA basketball player cum Shaolin martial artist that happen to be passing by. Lastly, there is Supergirl (yes, that is her name), a superstar singer cum Chinese Opera martial artist that just happened to be in Hong Kong visiting her father at that time.


 The periodic sets and costumes are beautiful

The first 2 hours of the film is, pretty much, high drama designed to tug your heart. The periodic dresses and 1906 sets of Hong Kong were beautifully directed. This movie cost RMB 150 million, so you could probably guess where all the money was spend on. However, the first 2 hours also talked about things such a democracy, equality, and freedom of speech which I don't think anyone in modern China can related to.

Thankfully, the last 1 hour contain the typical action fest.
Donnie Yen personally took out 500 ninja assassins; Leon Lai took out 300; Yao Ming and Supergirl each 100 assassins. In between, there was a minor cameo by Eric Tsang leading a bunch of horsed policemen who took out about 50 assassins. The fight scenes were energetic and entertaining.

As a minor note, Donnie Yen actually have two roles in this movie. He starred as the super efficient policeman martial artist Donnie Yen and some down-on-his-luck loser gambler who banged Fan Bingbing and fathered her child. There was a lot of confusion in the beginning but I figure that those two roles were separated. Donnie Yen doesn't need drama to sell his movie.


Supergirl in action

There was a twist in the ending. In the end of all those good-old-brainless fight scenes, Teddy Chen, the director of this movie, decided to go Shakespeareans. This means everyone dies. Well, everyone expect for those who historically lived longer (Tony Leung and Li Yutang). So, Donnie Yen, Leon Lai, Yao Ming, and Supergirl were killed off in their own individual fight scene together with the assassins. The only bad guy left when all the martial artists were gone was Yan Xiaoguo, the assassin big bad, who proceed to kill off the rest of the cast in accord with the rules of tragedy. Yan Xiaoguo himself was later killed off by Tony Leung ... with a gun.

As a conclusion to this review, I find that fight scenes to be good and well choreographed. The rest of the movie contains too much tears-shedding drama resulted from high improbable tragedies. My feedback to the director of this movie is less fake drama and more physic defying fight scene.

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