Legendary Assassin [Import]
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An assassin (Wu Jing) who is fresh from his latest kill becomes stranded on an island, where he inadvertently befriends a female police officer (Celina Jade). As the night progresses, the unspoken truth honored by the two sides of the law is broken. After the remains are found of a body that belonged to a drug lord and crime syndicate leader, chaos ensues and criminals ravage the once peaceful streets in a race against time to find the mysterious murderer, who's loose and out for blood.""
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I love deep movies that make you think. But like any red-blooded man, sometimes I just need an adrenaline-pumping action movie. This film offers great fight sequences, sprinkles of intentionally corny humor, and bone-crunching action. The fight scenes were choreographed by Nicky Li, an official member of the Jackie Chan Stunt Team for over 15 years. If you've seen Rumble in the Bronx, Rush Hour, or any other Jackie Chan flick, you've witnessed Li's fight choreography.
The film was shot surprisingly well, and has a terrific music score. I was impressed with the fact that this was the directorial debut of Wu Jing AKA Jacky Wu, who also plays the lead character Bo, a soft-spoken stranger who carries a mysterious bag everywhere. Legendary Assassin also marks the acting debut of the amazingly beautiful Hong King singer Celina Jade, starring as small-town police officer.
If there's any drawback to the movie, it's that there is virtually no character development or backstories. While most of the film's characters are memorable, and have their own unique vibe, you really don't get to learn anything about them. There's not much to the plot itself, and even Bo's motive for being an assassin isn't revealed until the film's conclusion. But despite that minor frustration, there's also a small twist revealed in the final scene that I was totally surprised to have not picked up on earlier in the film.
The film was shot in Hong Kong, and the dialogue is Cantonese with English subtitles. The DVD extra features include two short featurettes: The Making of Legendary Assassin, and The Characters of Legendary Assassin. The "making of" feature offers great insight as to why the lead character wears a wolf fang around his neck, and also provides details on the actors and production.
Overall, I thought this was a great action flick. It was intentionally shot to be kind of corny like an 80's martial arts movie, but the fight scenes definitely deliver. If you're a fan of Jackie Chan flicks, you should absolutely check out Legendary Assassin.
Well, I was one of the few who liked the teaming of Wu Jing with choreographer Nicky Li in "Fatal Contact" (2006). Hey, I like good fights, and in my opinion, "FC" has some of the best, in exactly the manner I like 'em: fast, precise, fluid, and brutal, with long takes and few wires. Unfortunately "FC" also has a boring plot with (mostly) unlikable characters. "Legendary Assassin" is a (slight) improvement in the plot and character department (except for the insufferable Sammy Leung) but the fights are definitely a step in the WRONG direction. Are they awful? No, but they're extremely disappointing when considering the main duo involved. I always complain about wires but I actually don't mind them when they're not blatantly obvious. They should aid fight scenes, not star in them! The wire-work here is better than most, but that ain't sayin' much. Acting's about the same, which is not great but functional, though it should be noted that my cinematic passion lies in action films, where thespian chops are typically neglected or ignored completely. Wu Jing is an improving actor and AMAZING athlete who even shows potential as a director but needs better roles if he wants to be an international star.
Anyway, I debated about the rating. It's probably more like a 3.5 out of 5, but I asked myself a couple of difficult questions: Did I like it? Will I watch it multiple times? Yep and most likely. The DVD from Lionsgate certainly doesn't hurt with an excellent widescreen picture and a handful of standard special features. In Cantonese or English with optional subtitles available in English or Spanish. The biggest surprise of this flick is the "Seasonal Films" logo, present at the beginning of the movie! I thought they went under? With half their library remaining unreleased on DVD, a comeback would certainly be encouraged by me!
2008. aka: Wolf Fang