'Bodyguards and Assassins' is a Hong Kong action-drama feature that released in 2009 to positive reviews and was a hit at the box-office.
The movie was one of the most anticipated Hong Kong features of 2009 as it was a big budget multi-starrer. It was nominated for a record 18 Hong Kong Film Awards, winning 8 awards for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor (Nicholas Tse), Best Action Choreography, Best Original Film Score, Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction and Best Costume Make Up Design.
The story concentrates on the events occurring in 1905 when Sun Wen (revolutionary) intends to come to Hong Kong to discuss his plans for revolution with his coleagues to overthrow the corrupt and falling Qing Dynasty (rulers of China). As a result, the dynasty sends a group of dangerous assassins to kill Sun Wen, initiating a battle of good versus evil.
The first three quarters of the movie is pure character development and a build of emotions, which helps the audience connect with the actors. The start is slow, but the engaging storyline highly compensates. The movie then has a fantastic final thirty minutes where we experience tension, excitement and emotions to the max with a hint of action.
All the actors in the movie perform brilliantly. The ones who stand out are Wang Xueqi (Li Yutang) who produces a mature performance, the underrated Wang Po-chieh (Li Chongguang), Nicholas Tse (A'si) who won all the accolades and the scary Hu Jun (Hu Jun) who seems like a true villain.
Now coming to my favourite actor in the movie, Donnie Yen, he steals the show, even though he only plays a supporting character. He doesn't fight much in the movie but when he does, it's the best one. Yen on this occassion mainly works on the emotions and nails it. His performance in the movie has been overlooked for some reason.
The main flaw in the movie is that there are too many actors and not enough time to accomodate them. As a result of this there are too many sub-plots, which eat into each other. The other thing that works against the movie is the misleading title, trailer and marketing campaign which suggests that the movie is an out-and-out actioner with Donnie Yen in the lead. This is not the case as Yen is only a supporting actor and the movie is mainly drama and not much action barring the climax.
The direction provided by Teddy Chen who won best director at the 29th Hong Kong Film Awards is worthy of an applause. He successfully managed to pull off a big budget movie with so many actors.
The background music score by Chan Kwong Wing and Peter Kam adds to the movies emotions.
All the action is saved for the end. It's well shot and exciting.
The movie starts slow, however if it's given some time and attention, you'll be blown away at the end.
'Bodyguards and Assassins' has moving drama that packs a punch.