Wednesday, October 13, 2010

REIGN of ASSASSINS (劍雨) Movie REVIEW. A Taut, Superb, Well-Crafted WU XIA Thriller.

REIGN OF ASSASSINS (劍雨) Press Preview.

As I sit in the darken cinema previewing the REIGN OF ASSASSINS …..

I am suddenly assailed by a strong sense of nostalgia.

It’s as though I am reviving the memories of a long gone era ….

It’s like taking an exploratory saunter into the 60s, visiting the SHAW BROTHERS Studios in Hong Kong, where the Wu Xia films were once-upon-a-time exploited to a hilt.

More …..

I can even appraise the remarkable touches of the late KING HU (Come Drink With Me) and ANG LEE (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) in the film’s directorial treatment …..

showcasing this as one of the finest WU XIA films to arrive at our shores after the lapse of a long, long time.

In the 60s, actress CHENG PEI PEI dominated the big screen as the swordplay queen.

These days, it’s MICHELLE YEOH the indisputable thespian of action flicks who presides in a steely role that earns our respect.


REIGN OF ASSASSINS is indeed, JOHN WOO’s first WU XIA film.

He also doubles as the producer and co-director.

It is a collaborative effort with Taiwanese film director SU CHAO PIN who helms the movie.

The PLOT centres around a notorious female assassin Drizzle (MICHELLE YEOH) who grows tired of her incessant killings.

She is determined to quit her GANG of killer swordsmen called THE DARK STONE.

However, DRIZZLE is in possession of one part of a mystical Buddhist monk’s remains and becomes hunted by her former compatriots, who seek the valuable secret hidden within it.

In a bid to escape, she requests an old doctor to perform surgery on her face.

Armed with a new look, she flees the scene and settles in a small little known town.

As fate would have it, she soon falls in love and marries a young man (JUN WOO SUNG),

but even her new found husband harbors a secret agenda.

This is where the plot of the REIGN OF ASSASSINS starts to unfold ….

Here’s a soulful story of conviction and redemption that reminds us that in forgiveness, we will have the strength to do what is right.

To love we must sometimes risk everything.

Yet some sins cannot be forgotten as in REIGN OF ASSASSINS …. the character DRIZZLE must come to terms with the guilt of killing the father of the man she loves.

And as the past manifests itself layer by layer, she has to confront the killer comrades she once collaborated with.

She badly wants to leave the disturbing echoes of the unhappy memories behind, but she realizes that she cannot simply pull a veil, or paint over her past.

What had happened, have already happened.

Life has to move on ….

She now has to navigate these shadowy recesses in a story that will make you glad that you’ve decided to come for a ride.

A top-notched cast, a painstakingly fabulous script

and breathtaking swordplay action aptly capture the classic essence of the WU XIA genre.

Such are the powerful torrents of REIGN OF ASSASSINS.

There are bitter-sweet moments towards the end – during the husband-and-wife confrontation in a fight for death, where vengeance runs amok but love delves deep.

The finale is taut and touching, as the Chinese title SHOWERS OF SWORDS implies, adding poetic justice to a spellbinding twist.

After CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON, this is another classic that will keep you glued to your seat.


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