Legendary Assassin 狼牙之阿布 (2008) – Hong Kong

An empty directorial debut from Wu Jing…

Review by Neo: Wu Jing first comes into my attention when he first starred with the beautiful Christy Chung in Tai Chi 2 (aka Tai Chi Boxer). Since then it took him exactly a decade before he showed his head again. For whatever reason, he was one of the best things in the extremely engaging SPL and followed it up with plenty of leading and supporting turns. There is no doubting that this lad does have potential, but as a director, Wu Jing is too simple in scenes that should be more complicated and far too exaggerated in what should be more straight forward filmmaking. Having a bad story is alone a poor beginning, but that’s not to say that Legendary Assassin is plain bad news. There are plenty of fight scenes that are alone worthy of the starving action fans’ attention, including the restaurant fight which included a cameo by Ronald Cheng. A decent film at best, average acting, some quality fight scenes, but in the end, Legendary Assassin disappoints as it just never seems to take off.

The movie is basically starts off with Wu Jing hobbling to a mysterious island off the coast of Hong Kong to state the obvious for the purpose of killing someone. In the process and somehow, he met up with this cute looking police girl (played by Celina Jade) and from there one fight follows another and before you realise, he is back in Hong Kong, gangster, police are chasing after him and eventually the cliché of a hero fighting to save his girl which is so obvious that it does not require a mention.

So what’s wrong with Legendary Assassin? The answer is simple, whenever there is a problem we should always try to find out by going to the root of the issue. The problem is the story, and then it comes down to some originally directing and the fact that this is an action film, where adrenalin is meant to be rushing. However, this is not the case and the result is leaving the audience with disappointment and perhaps something better from Hong Kong’s lone action cinema new generation hope with Wu Jing. As mention before, there was one brutal fight scene that is of interest, in the restaurant fight during the heavy wind and rain, but apart from that those good moments are far and few in occurrence.

Going on to the acting, there is no question that Wu Jing is yet to experience what it is like to actually act. Here he is as stoic as ever or perhaps as wooden would provide a better description. While he graces the screen whenever he attempts to fight, his character is rather boring to follow. It is a shame as he was so cool in SPL, as the silent assassin and there were times in the past couple of years, where I called him the young Jet Li. Then again, Jet Li used to act rather stoic in his early days before alighting the screen with some dazzling displays like Fearless, Hero (he was stoic yes, but there was depth with his underlying performance) and more recently in the critically acclaimed role in Warlords. Let’s hope this lad will continue to improve and seriously one must mention if he is half as successful as Jet Li, it will be pronounced as some sort of success. Turning to newcomer Celina Jade, she is actually likable and decently natural for a first timer. There was plenty of rawness in her acting, but somehow he manages to pull through to become one of the few good things about the movie. On another note, she looks great in uniform too. However, supporting players like Alex Fong and Ronald Cheng, either overacts or leaning towards annoying than likability.

All in all, Legendary Assassin is really a disappointment and even a step back from Wu Jing previous starring vehicles like Fatal Move or even Fatal Contact. Maybe Wu Jing needs more time and work with more different kinds of director before donning the hat of a director. Maybe Wu Jing need to start stretching his acting a bit more or even take a leaf out of Donnie Yen’s unashamed style of overacting or even his restrained performance in Yip Man. Whatever the case is, Legendary Assassin is by no means good enough for both a Wu Jing’s film standard and the potential he can certainly reach. While it may seem rather critical, but sometimes, when some needs to be said, it owe to be spoken, and the reality is that Legendary Assassin is disappointingly below average and a clear step in the wrong direction of a promising career … (Neo 2009)

I rate it 5/10

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