I’m afraid I’m posting up another guilty love. The Assassin (1993) or Sha ren zhe Tang Zhan, based on a novel by Wen Shui-On, is a action pack display of Martial Arts and Swordplay. Oh and blood and gore, lots of blood and gore but not in a realistic way. Fengyi Zhang (Red Cliff, Farewell My Concubine) is Tong Po Ka a poor farmer who is forbidden to marry Yiu who is played by the wonderful Rosamund Kwan (Once Upon a Time in China 1-3, Casino Raiders, Project A 2). Tong Po Ka is accused of kidnapping by Yiu’s village and is sent to prison. Instead of being executed he and the other prisoners with him are allowed to fight to the death with the last man standing getting their freedom by being an assassin for the evil eunuch Ngai. Tong Po Ka then becomes friends with fellow assassin Wong Kau played by Max Mok (Once Upon a Time in China 1-5, Master Swordsman Lu Xiaofeng, 7 Assassins) and from there things only get worse.
The film is old and the special effects do not hold up but the story is straightforward, the fight scenes are intense and I can think of a lot worse ways to spend 78 minutes! If you enjoy 90’s martial arts films and see it around ebay or amazon for a good price then by all means pick it up and get it. It is getting harder to find on DVD and for english subtitles only in Region 1, distributed by Tai Seng Entertainment. Just a reminder for anyone trying to search this film. Make sure you add “Hong Kong movie” in the search as The Point of No Return starring Bridget Fonda is also sometimes called The Assassin and also came out the same year.
Billy Chung Siu-Hung, Director
Stephen Tung Wai, Action Director
Benz Kong To-Hoi, Action Director
Zhang Feng-Yi (Farewell to My Concubine, The Emperor and the Assassin, Red Cliff) as Tang Zhan / Tang Bao Jia
Rosamund Kwan Chi-Lam (Once Upon a Time in China I-III, V, VI, Blade of Fury) as Yao
Max Mok Siu-Chung (Once Upon a Time in China II-IV, Wong Fei Hung Series 1996, Master Swordsman Lu Xiaofeng (2001)) as Wang Kou
Diao Xiao-Xiao as Xin Bao
A scathing review from A Wasted Life
Love HK Film review
City on Fire review