Bodyguards and Assassins 十月圍城 (2009) – Hong Kong / China
An entertaining Chinese blockbuster…
Review by Neo: Bodyguards and Assassins (B&A) is what you call, a blockbuster. Quality production values, generally good acting turns, steady direction and adequate commercial values to put bums on seats. Putting the false advertising of Donnie Yen aside, B&A is one of the better movies of 2009. As stupid as I was, pondering that this movie was IP MAN 2. I was all the more surprised by how satisfied it left me as the credit rolls. Lack of action, too much drama may have distorted most action fans, but director Teddy Chan combines perfectly with the silky producing of Peter Chan. Both Chan handles the drama impeccably and to a greater extent in the effect of spot on casting. By no means, a great flick, but undoubtedly, for what it is worth, B&S is a thoroughly entertaining piece of dramatic, historic and action event.
The movie goes like this: Sun Yat-Sen needs protection and in the process, everyone seems to be involved. The film is basically about the price to paid, the value of human beings and the cost of human lives for the greater good. Then again, the rest is just history.
One of the most stunning action moments in cinematic history involves Donnie Yen. Mr. Yen stands in the way of a full blooded horse charging at him with full pace and agility. The manner plus the fashion that led to the dramatic impact was simply a moment of magic. The stand out performance award must go to the veteran, Wang Yueqi. Mr. Wang juggles between the business world, fatherhood and idealisation is certainly amazing to watch. Wang evolves throughout the movie and the pinnacle moment occurs in the scene of witness his son premature death. Wang pulled it off terrifically, just like any other father. For me, it is these simple moments that adds up as to why B&A ultimately works.
As a villain, there are few that can rival, the merciless and fearless presence of Hu Jun. An expert practitioner in playing the bad guy, Hu is not just the cliché, one dimensional bad guy. His multi-layer performance is a joy to watch. As usual, Tony Leung Ka Fai is convincing as a sympathetic yet passionate follower of Sun Yat-Sen. Nicholas Tse plays the simple guy with simple dreams and life. Tse pursues love and friendship and values loyalty, is most likely his best performance for a long while. Donnie Yen actually attempts to act and likewise, Leon Lai provides a moment of comic relief as a beggar turned kung fu fighter. Perhaps the weakest link goes to the stunt double of Sun Yat-Sen. Played by Wang Bo Chieh, he is neither convincing nor capable of handling such an important role. Wang lacks both screen presence and the required acting ability to add any value to the movie.
All in all, B&A is an entertaining blockbuster attempt in recapturing the chaotic history of the turn of century in China. Mr. Sun Yat-Sen may well be a respectable hero, but it undeniably poses the question of value. Did his vision justify the death and human sacrifices of all these individuals? Is his principle of the greater good, simply just any version of the first emperor of China in his unification of China as one country? For me, it is a matter of perspective and going into a historical and political debate will most likely require a research essay all together. Still, it makes you wonder, why Mr. Sun did not keep his visit of Hong Kong, as low profile as possible. It seems as though that he is trying to stand out by wearing his trademark white hat. Forgetting these minor flaws, as a movie, B&A works just fine. For once, director Teddy Chan got the balance of drama and action spot on. Credit should also be dealt to producer Peter Chan, as his touch and influence is clearly evident throughout. It has been a disappointing year 2009 for the local industry and while B&A does nothing to change that fact, it still manages to shed some light at the end of the tunnel…(Neo 2010)
I rate it 8/10