BODYGUARDS AND ASSASSINS

bodyguards

On paper, Bodyguards and Assassins with kickass Donnie Yen on the cast, & the story of Dr. Sun Yat Sen & the revolution against the Ching government to revive China back to it’s people sounds like a win,win,win situation! Even the struggles with Teddy Chan, the director of the movie who had many obstacles with making the film which spanned over a decade including a suicide with an investor of the film to his own bouts of depression to his mom’s death to rainstorms & labor disputes to a dog eating the script (just kidding) makes you want to root for the success of the movie. The anticipation grew exponentially with the release of Bodyguards and Assassins! The movie had a tremendous potential given the patriotism & historical significance of Dr. Sun Yat Sen to his country. However, in my alien eyes, the plot development & the characters in the film seemed out of place & often distracting! Furthermore, I did not connect with Dr. Sun Yat Sen & his inspiration that he provided to his country because he was just an enigma in the film. To the ordinary viewer, Sun Yat Sen was just a dude in a white jungle hat. The movie did not allow you to feel his pulse & I wanted to get to know his character so badly because it was Dr. Sun Yat Sen, the leader of China that wanted to overthrow the evil empire. I wanted to know why the chinese people who supported Sun Yat Sen would want to risk their lives for him. Yes, we know he wanted to organize a revolution to fight for a democratic nation to offer a better life for his people, but I wanted to feel that for myself on the movie screen.

Bodyguards and Assassins starts off with a bang from an assassination of a local democratic figure named Yang Quyun in Hong Kong. From what I understand, Yan Ouyun was one of the original spearheads of instituting democratic ideas to the chinese people. Xiao Guo is the lead assassin hired by the Ching Emperor to rid of roaches that would stand against their dynasty including Democratic notions led by Yang Quyun & Sun Yat Sen. Chen Xiao Bai another democratic activist in Hong Kong hears rumblings that Sun Yat Sen will set foot in Hong Kong soon to meet with other leaders & activists to discuss democratic order & to organize an uprise against the Ching Government. Another major player in the film is Liu Yue Tang who is an investor to the cause & owner of a printing press for a newspaper. He desperately wants his son to stay away from the above mentioned parties because he knows death would loom for anyone going against the ching government. Unfortunately, the son ends up being the decoy for Dr. Sun with his pilgrimmage to Hong Kong. Simon Yam plays the leader of the Peking Opera Troupe who will ultimately sacrifice their lives for the safety of Sun Yat Sen. The Hong Kong police which is governed by the British is caught between a rock & a hard place. HK Police have orders from the english hierarchy to let the chinese & ching government take it’s course & let them eliminate each other. Donnie Yen is a Police officer,addicted gambler,spy,then ex-spy for the Ching government. Pop star veteran , Leon Lai who plays Master Liu was an aristocrat turned beggar who sleeps on the streets because of his ladyfriend who committed suicide. The gist of the film is that the followers of Sun Yat Sen & his movement in Hong Kong will organize a safe passageway for him on his day visit to Hong Kong Island for the meetings. Truth is known that these bodyguards willing to escort Sun Yat Sen through the streets of Central on Hong Kong Island will basically sacrifice their lives. The first half of the film introduces the viewer to all the characters that will either be the bodyguard or the assassin. I didn’t have an issue with the first half of the movie, but once Sun Yat Sen got off the Star Ferry enroute to Central it seemed like somebody in the film flipped the switch on & everybody was kung fu fighting when not a lick was thrown prior. Even Donnie Yen’s character didn’t move a feather in the 1st half of the film. Yen was even bitch slapped by a few mongrols & he took it like a champ. Yen played the role of a raggamuffin & troubled gambler with a new found daughter, but it was just odd that suddenly the man erupted into “Iron Monkey” looking to whoop some scoundrel ass. Another intense but weird fight scene involved an assassin played by kickboxing champion,Cung Le and Donnie Yen. Cung Le came out of no where like the incredible hulk smashing innocent bystanders instead of crippling the entourage that rickshawed Sun Yat Sen & the decoy. Cung Le & Donnie Yen finally meet up & basically cancelled each other out. It was an intense fight scene but the choreography was so rabbid that it was not to be enjoyed. Donnie Yen’s last breath was taken when he courageously rammed into a galloping horse that carried the #1 assassin hired by the Ching government. Now, the #1 killer has to schlep on his own two feet to seek blood! This act allowed Sun Yat Sen’s decoy to rummage forward. Leon Lai’s character was also an enigma. He spent half of the movie playing the beggar sleeping on the streets with a full beard then at a whim the mofo is clean shaven,showers,then carries a steel bladed fan ready to sacrifice his life for the cause? With that in mind, Leon Lai is as clumsy as Mr. Magoo when heavy barrages of kicks & punches are thrown. Quirky characters played by Eric Tsang (HK detective) & 7 foot NBA player, Menke Bateer who played an ex-shaolin monk that never had a fist fight were a tremendous distraction to the film. A serious & uplifting film like this should not have any circus acts like Eric Tsang or Menke Bateer acting in it. In the end, many bodyguards were sacrificed in order to keep the Sun Yat Sen movement alive as the Chinese continue to fight with the leadership of Dr. Sun until the Qing Dynasty succumbed in 1911.

The story as a whole provided some great insider information regarding Sun Yat Sen’s journey into Hong Kong in 1906 for those secret meetings while he was in refuge in Japan & the United States for the most part. I thought the backdrop & movie set that depicted the Central district on Hong Kong Island circa 1906 looked amazing! However, the individual parts of many characters in the film were quite peculiar which was a big turnoff to me. That being said “Bodyguards and Assassins” won the best film of the year award in Hong Kong in April of 2010. So, the moral of this movie review is that you should watch it yourself & make up your own mind! Bodyguards and Assassins didn’t float this martians spaceship. Booooo!

–Mr. C (4 out of 10 leggo my eggos)

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