June 20, 2011

Reign of Assassins - Review

Reign of Assassins turns out to be a superb martial arts period piece. While starting with a pretty energetic rate to setup what is to become the heart of the story, things soon settle down for a well-paced film. The characters are well developed and well cast, and the story itself has its twists and it is quite entertains from beginning to end. The martial arts sequences come in spurts and they are definite high points of this picture. The sword play & fight scene choreography is superb and the cinematography is perfect.

Michelle Yeoh (who hasn't missed a beat since Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) and Jung Woo-Sung play a married couple (each unaware the spouse is a world-class assassin - sort of like 'Mr and Mrs. Smith'). Without heavy resorting to heavy visual effects, and without going too far down any one stylistic road, the film gives new life to the genre. Reign of Assassins is full blown of fantasy/martial arts film, yet still has a nice romantic aspect to it as well. This is also a return to form from famed director John Woo who has gone on record stating that now he wants to make many more films in the booming Chinese film industry.

The ending is moving and poetic, and John Woo replaced his usual guns and bombs with flashing swordplay and fantasy effects. It gets better as it progresses and the plot has a few surprising twists and turns. The sets, costumes, acting, and performances are nearly perfect, I highly recommend it.

Here's one of the great action sequences in the film:

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