I just finished watching this film for the second time and it amazes me just how good this film is. Bodyguards and Assassins takes place in 1905 as Sun Yat-sen travels to Hong Kong to organise the revolution against the Qing Dynasty. Loosely based on real historical people and facts Bodyguards and Assassins is a complete rollercoaster ride of emotions. From joy to sorrow, calm to intense action and even a bit of romance director Teddy Chan (Kung Fu Jungle, The Accidental Spy) beautifully tells the tale of Chen Shaobai and his mission to protect the life of the Tongmenghui leader, Sun Yat-sen.
The sets are amazingly detailed and really gives you a feel to what early 1900 Hong Kong would have looked like. Which is not surprising considering they spent much of it’s budget recreating Hong Kong’s Central District. The music score certainly knew how to manipulate your feelings and emotional involvement in the motion picture while the acting was superb! Wang Xueqi’s performance as Li Yutang was both inspirational and sorrowful. I was truly amazed by his performance and he was nominated for one best actor awards and won two others. There was substantial growth in Donnie Yen’s acting in Bodyguards and Assassins and I would easily place it as his best acting to date. There are so many characters that there’s not enough time to really get involved in each of their backstory but the movie manages to give each of them enough screen time to make you care about each one, even the characters that are somewhat unlikable.
Bodyguards and Assassins has a huge cast of very talented actors.
Donnie Yen (Seven Swords, New Dragon Gate Inn, IP Man) as Shen Chongyang a corrupt policeman who is addicted to gambling. The one thing that put me off this character and one of Donnie Yen’s better performances was the bald cap. It was obvious, the makeup on it was excellent, but you can’t hide hair and make it look shaved. It was made all the worse as Donnie Yen was the ONLY actor to wear one.
Zhang Hanyu (White Vengeance, The Founding of a Republic) as Sun Wen (Sun Yat-sen). This is just a cameo appearance as he doesn’t really have a lot to do.
Tony Leung Ka-fai (New Dragon Gate Inn, Ashes of Time, Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame) as Chen Shaobai the chief editor of China Daily in Hong Kong. He was an actual historical figure. Big Tony, as he is sometimes referred to gave an amazing performance.
Wang Xueqi (Warriors of Heaven and Earth, The Founding of a Republic, Reign of Assassins) steals the show as Li Yutang an old friend of Chen Shaobai and father to Li Chongguang
Wang Po-chieh (The Lost Bladesman, Life of Pi) as Li Chongguang. Another good performance
Fan Bingbing (A Battle of Wits, Shaolin, X-Men: Days of Future Pastas) is Yueru Li Yutang’s fourth wife and former wife of Shen Chongyang.
Nicholas Tse (Gen-X Cops, The Medallion, Dragon Tiger Gate, A Man Called Hero) as Deng Sidi a rickshaw driver and employee of the Li’s.
Simon Yam (Young and Dangerous 1-3, The Return of the Condor Heroes TV series (1983)) as Fang Tian. Simon Yam is a veteran actor of both the big and little screen.
Li Yuchun (The Flying Swords of Dragon Gate, The Guillotines) as Fang Hong daughter of Fang Tian. Li Yuchun won best new actor award for her performance. She has only been in three films and they have all been action films which surprises me as most cantopop stars rarely do action films. I think she hold her own against the big boys and I look forward to seeing more of her.
Mengke Bateer as the monk Wang Fuming. Mengke Bateer is not a professional actor but a basketball player and one of the few from China to play for the NBA in the States.
This is by far on my top 5 films for that decade!
Love HK Film Review
myWuxia Review and Synopsis