I feel this movie will be a Wuxia classic. A legendary Indian Buddhist monk, Bodhi and the belief that his mummified remains has mystical powers is at the center of all the problems between the Dark Stone Gang and its former member Drizzle. To escape being caught she has her face changed and attempts to leave the world of jianghu and live a normal life but her past is about to catch up to her.
Total Film magazine gave the film three stars out of five, opining that the film “lacks the plot punch of Zhang Yimou’s Hero or the visual poetry of Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.” Personally that is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. That is like comparing Raiders of the Lost Ark to Lawrence of Arabia or Conan the Barbarian to Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. All are good films but they are each trying for a different look and approach.
The film hit all the marks for a great wuxia film. The story is good and they don’t deviate from it, the main characters have just the right balance of action and character development, the sets and locations are spectacular, the costumes are extremely well done, and the action is exciting with some new ideas. There is also the feel of continuity and history between the characters which is very good.
I was very pleased with the choice of actors Michelle Yeoh was a great choice for the lead, this is only the second time I’ve seen Jung Woo-sung, but he impressed me in 2001’s Musa, Wang Xueqi is a great actor and always brings something new and special to the characters he plays, Shawn Yue is a good actor and I normally watch him in Triad movies (modern Gangster/Mafia) and I really liked his character in the film! Plus there were some new faces for me as well, Barbie Hsu and Kelly Lin.
Michelle Yeoh (Butterfly and Sword, Wing Chun, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) as Zeng Jing / Drizzle
Jung Woo-sung (Musa) as Jiang Ah-sheng
Wang Xueqi (Warriors of Heaven and Earth, Bodyguards and Assassins, Monk Comes Down the Mountain) as Wheel King / Cao Feng
Barbie Hsu (The Monkey King: Quest for the Sutra) as Turquoise Leaf / Ye Zhanqing
Shawn Yue (Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen, The Guillotines, The Tales of Wukong) as Lei Bin
Kelly Lin (The Legend of Zu) as Drizzle
Guo Xiaodong (The Warlords, An Empress and the Warriors) as Zhang Renfeng
Jiang Yiyan (The Four I, II, & III, Sword Master) as Tian Qingtong
Paw Hee-ching (White Hair Devil Lady, The Eagle Shooting Heroes, Fearless, Wu Dang) as Auntie Cai
Pace Wu as Kongdong Teal Sword / Qing Jian
Leon Dai as the Magician / Lian Sheng
Chin Shih-chieh (The Guillotines, The Grandmaster, Brotherhood of Blades) as Doctor Li
Angeles Woo as Eater Bear
Calvin Li (The Lost Bladesman) as Wisdom / Monk Jian Hui
Matt Wu as Killer Bear
Hu Xiaoguang (Red Cliff) as Song Yang Five leader
Han Zhi as Song Yang Five member
Xing Hanqing as Song Yang Five member
Che Kim-fai (Bodyguards and Assassins) as Song Yang Five member
Shi Zhanjie as Song Yang Five member
Peter Kam (Bodyguards and Assassins, The Warlords, Wu Xia, Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame) as General Huang
Lee Hing-cheung as Zhang Haiduan
Ma Shuliang as oil shop boss Chen
You Liping as Banker Zhang Dajing
Qin Weidong as Butcher Zhu
Love HK Film review
Drunken Sword review
Kung-Fu Kingdom review
Stephen Tung, the Action Director of “Reign of Assassins” and 2002’s “Hero”, is the student Bruce Lee asks to “Kick me” in the beginning of “Enter the Dragon“!
Reign of Assassins was not as great a financial success as had been hoped for in Asia, being overshadowed by Tsui Hark’s smash hit “Detective Dee: Mystery of the Phantom Flame”, which had been released at the same time.
According to Wikipedia the film came about when producer Terence Chang was looking for an action film for Michelle Yeoh. He approached Su Chao-Bin and he wrote the wuxia style script.
Actors in the film come from Taiwan, Korea, Hong Kong and China and there were initially language issues with Cantonese, Mandarin, and Korean all being spoken. They obviously were able to manage.
John Woo was so impressed with the script that he was on set for nearly the whole shoot, advising director Su Chao-pin, which led to Woo being credited as a co-director. Woo has stated that he “didn’t want to impose my style on Su…I only gave advice and shared my experience”.
Peter Kam who played General Huang is actually an award winning composer who has composed music for over 80 films!