Starring (Jacky) Wu Jing, Celina Jade, Kara Hui, Lam Suet, Noriko Aoyama
Fight Choreography by Jack Wong and Chi Li Chung
Directed By Wu Jing and Chi Li Chung
Wu Jing has been in the business for quite some time, and many hope that he is the answer to the question “who’s next?” in regards to who might take over the Hong Kong action void being left by the 80’s crew as they get older (Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, Jet Li). Even Donnie Yen is in his mid 40’s, vowing to retire being in front of the camera once he turns 50 (retire? I have to see it to believe it). What seems to be missing for Wu Jing is that character. The one he’ll always be known for. It took Donnie Yen his entire career to find that in Ip Man, and JC found it early on as Wong Fei-Hung, and Jet Li as the same character. Is that character here for Wu Jing?
No, but that’s okay. He’s played assassins before. He’s pretty good at it.
Legendary Assassin begins as we meet Bo, an assassin who is on the hunt for Chairman Ma, head of a drug mafia. He finds Ma on an island off the coast of Hong Kong and kills him, taking his head in a bag. Why would he do this? The answer comes later in the film. Bo’s troubles start as a typhoon hits the coast, and all boats are forbidden to leave port, and the ferry he needs to board won’t come in from Hong Kong until the bad weather passes. A chance encounter with a beautiful police officer Holly (Jade) provides Bo with a rare peace he’s never known, but in even more danger after he helps her apprehend a group of bank robbers and is rewarded with a meal and friendship among the police officers of the small precinct. Meanwhile Chairman Ma’s wife has sent a group of men to the island to find out what happened to her husband. This sets off a chain of events where Chairman Ma’s body is found by the police, and a hunt begins for the killer. Bo now finds himself trapped on the island hunted by police officers he doesn’t want to hurt or reveal that he is the killer, and the mafia who is looking to take revenge, and Holly’s own life is in real danger from everyone…
Legendary Assassin is a fun, if predictable film. Most film where the assassin becomes human always seems to end with them dying, so I’m not giving anything away here. Wu Jing is likable here, and is able to act as an innocent who’s never really known too much kindness toward him, and from the police no less. Celina Jade is new but does a good job as Holly, and she is able to play her as a capable police officer who smartly knows that things are not right with Bo. The story moves along at a good pace, but there were no real chances taken in regards to it. The cinematography is pretty good, but nothing special. I wonder how much Wu Jing directed himself. If it was most of the film, he shows a good eye for the camera and how to get good scenes from the actors. The only part of the story that loses me is the battle at the end. Yes, it’s just a film, and we’ve seen other “hero” characters find an unrealistic horde of henchmen, but for some reason this seems more unrealistic than even I could deal with and pulled me out of the film. The hero fighting on two fucked up knees doesn’t help the situation either.
The fight choreography here is really well done, particularly the fight in the restaurant and then the hundred man battle at the end of the film (as crazy as it was) . The fights are brutal and the movements are a mixture of real world and “film” with only a couple of moments that are wire-assisted, which is what we need to see more of from Wu Jing. The fight flow really well, but there was no really good end fight with any one single character, which would have been a good payoff for a film like this. Watching Wu Jing beat the tar out of nameless enemies isn’t boring, either.
Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 8
Legendary Assassin is a good if not original assassin film that’s worth a watch. Wu Jing kicks a lot of ass, but during the final fight he kicks a little TOO MUCH ass. I can’t believe I just wrote that.