Reign Of Assassins (HK 2010)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 7/10/11
Producer: John Woo
Cast: Michelle Yeoh, Jung Woo-Sung, Kelly Lin, Barbie Hsu

A beautiful swordplay epic that's marred by invasive and unconvincing wire work. Legend has it that reuniting the separated corpse of an ancient kung fu master yields immense power, and a group of ruthless assassins are intent on procuring the corpse. For whatever reasons, a female assassin named Drizzle (Kelly Lin) runs off with one half of the corpse, leaving her partners empty-handed. Wanting to put her past behind her, she undergoes cosmetic surgery and becomes Zeng Jing (Michelle Yeoh). A young courier named Jiang Ah Sheng (charming Jung Woo-Sung) falls in love with her and after a sweet courtship, they get married. But fate has other plans for the happy couple, as Drizzle's past comes back to haunt her. She agrees to relinquish her half of the corpse if she and her husband will be spared, which leads to an overly long and increasingly convoluted climax of betrayals, reveals, and double-crosses.

It's a well made and good looking production with excellent cinematography and a stirring musical score. The acting is quite good and both Michelle Yeoh and Jung Woo-Sung sung are very engaging. The action scenes are well staged and there is some impressive swordplay, but the editing is choppy and the overly loose and floaty wire work spoils the fun. Other digital effects also distract from the action, which is unfortunate, but not unexpected these days. Overall, it's a serviceable and enjoyable martial arts period piece that plays it safe and is content with not taking any risks.