Bodyguards and Assassins

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Rating: Not Rated

Starring:
Donnie Yen as Sum Chung-yang
Leon Lai as Lau Yuk-bak
Xueqi Wang as Li Yue-tang
Tony Leung Ka Fai as Chen Xiao-bai
Nicholas Tse as Ah Si
Jun Hu as Yan Xiao-guo
Yuchun Li as Fang Hong
Eric Tsang as Detective Smith
Simon Yam as Fang Tian
Bingbing Fan as Yuet-yu
Cung Le as Sa Zhen-shan
Bo-Chieh Wang as Li Chung-guang
Yun Zhou as Ah Suen

Directed by Teddy Chan

Special Features:
Five Behind-The-Scenes Featurettes
Extended Interviews with Cast and Crew
International Trailer
Exclusive QR Code for Additional Bonus Materials

Other Info:
Widescreen
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound (Mandarin)
English Stereo Sound
English Subtitles
Running Time: 139 Minutes

The Details:
The following is the official description of the film:

“‘Bodyguards and Assassins’ follows a motley crew of five men and women fighting for freedom and democracy, the ultimate goal is to overthrow the corrupt Qing dynasty. In this action-packed martial arts film, the gang must work together to protect Sun Yat-Sen who is destined to lead them to a new, modern China from a group of deadly assassins. They must act with their courage, strength and conscience and ignite a revolution.”

“Bodyguards and Assassins” is not rated.

Mini-Review:
Looking at the cover for “Bodyguards and Assassins,” I was expecting this to be a simple martial arts film. But when I started watching it, I realized it was a bit more than that. It’s a historical based drama with a little bit of martial arts mixed in. It follows a group of Chinese revolutionaries in Hong Kong preparing for the arrival of their leader Sun Wen for a pivotal meeting with a group of regional leaders. Most of the film is the build up for the revolutionaries to protect Sun from a host of assassins. Then the final hour is a big action scene where they fend off one attack after another as Sun goes to and from the meeting.

This is the kind of movie that’s going to play in China a lot better than the rest of the world. The Chinese are familiar with the history, the significance of the events has a lot more meaning to them, and national pride is a tremendous factor in the movie. It’s like movies about “The Alamo” playing better in Texas than everywhere else. For Westerners, “Bodyguards and Assassins” may lack something. We don’t really understand who Sun Wen is and why he’s important. He’s glossed over as a character in favor of everyone else. About all the Westerners can really identify with is the relationships between the characters – fathers and sons, daughters and fathers, and husbands and wives. Because of this they’ll watch the movie with a bit more of a critical eye than those audiences viewing it through rose colored patriotic glasses. Even then, you can bet that much of this movie is historically inaccurate. This is more about capturing a feeling and patriotic spirit than making a non-fiction film.

History aside, “Bodyguards and Assassins” is a great looking movie. The sets and costumes are beautiful and the cinematography is well done. The 1905 setting is also quite interesting. We see China at a time when the ancient world is clashing directly with the modern world politically, culturally, and technologically. This is underlined when dozens of ninjas attack the heroes and, by the end, one character pulls out a gun and ends it all by blowing one of them away. It shows how the gun leveled the playing field when it came to combat.

If you’re watching “Bodyguards and Assassins” for the action, you’re probably going to be pretty bored. This movie is over 2 hours long and the first hour is pretty light on action. The final hour where the assassins attack Sun is pretty action packed. Is it worth sitting through the rest of the film? That’s kind of hard to say. It depends on your tastes. But as you watch it, you really start to question the wisdom of the characters running through the open street on a pre-determined path while ninjas attack them. It’s pretty suicidal even if they are serving as a distraction.

If you like historical dramas and Chinese history, you’ll probably enjoy “Bodyguards and Assassins”. But if you want just martial arts, you should probably look elsewhere.

There are several bonus features on this DVD. There are featurettes on the characters, the set, the design, the make-up, and the action. There are also interviews with Leon Lai, Wang Xueqi, Tong Ka-fai Leung, and Peter Chan.

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