Starring: Donnie Yen , Nicholas Tse , Leon Lai ,Simon Yam
Directed By : Teddy Chen - 2009
©2009 Cinema Popular - China Film Group
Teddy Chen has had this film in production for some Ten years ,with many troubles thrown at him such as rainstorms ,suicide labor disputes and Even his own Bouts of depression ,but now after this long wait the film has become a reality and no mean feat it is not.With a cast that 's a who's who of Hong Kong cinema ,your assured that your in for a wild ride,but are You?.
The story surrounds the arrival of Sun Yat-Sen or Sun Wen as he is referred to in the film .It all takes place in Hong Kong in 1905 when Sun plans to arrive to discuss his plans for revolution with fellow Tongmenghui members to overthrow the corrupt and crumbling Qing Dynasty.The empress dowager send s a group of Assassins led by Yan Xiaoguo (Hu Jun) to kill Sun .Prior to this a revolutionary ,Chen Shaobai ( Tony Leung Ka Fai) arrives to visit a business man and friend ''Li Yutang '' who provides aid for the revolution in a anonymous manner.
Now the Qing assassins are planning there attack and paying of the cops so they won't intervene by using a lowly policeman called Shen Chongyang (Donnie Yen)to make sure when trouble starts that they are not around .At the same time Chen Shaobai has a team of revolutionaries led by Fang Tien (Simon Yam) a former Qing General who with his team pose as a opera troupe.
But when the Qing find out about the plans they attack the troupe and capture Chen Shaobai ,who is also Yan Xaiogou's former teacher.When news gets out about this to Li Yutang he is outraged and worried for his fiend Chen ,on top of this his Newspaper is closed by authorities as being sympathetic to the revolutionaries ,it's at this point that he declares his support for the revolutionaries and this sets off in motion a plan to secure the safety of Sun when he arrives ,He goes about recruiting help to protect Sun on his journey when he arrives with his trusty aid and servant A'si (Deng Sidi) (Nichloas Tse).
Luck be had it after a troubled and life threatening spell in the hands of the Qing Chen Shaobai manages to escape and and ends up at Li Yutangs House where takes control once again of Sun's arrival .Needing a decoy the volunteers draw straws to to see who will pose as Sun's Decoy .The result is one that will not please Li Yutang when he finds out.
Now there are many subplots to the film to follow as well ,as with so many characters ,each have their own story and Teddy Chen has tried to relay this to the audience.For instance Donnie Yen's character ''Chen Shongyang is also the former husband of Li Yutangs present wife who has a child by Chen.This causes Chen problems when his ex approaches him to protect Li Yutang no matter what.
So without spoiling the ending of the film and there's a lot of it as SUN arrives it's a race against time to get Sun to his meeting destination to discuss the revolution .The assassins have set up traps along the route he will take and the Bodyguards will have to fight to protect him,then it will be at the fate of the decoy that he will survive.
So was it any good ,yes it was but this is no heroic action flick where Any one fighter takes on thousands and wins the day. It's a hard hitting story that takes time to build up as it will be about a hour or more before you get to see any hard core action and Patience is something you will need while watching.Even thought the story is quite compelling through out and the settings are brilliantly done.
The hardest part was watching Donnie and thinking .Now he gonna kick some butt now ,but he does not ,and this goes on for a while but when he does fly in to action it's a relief for the viewer .
Disappointing aspects of the film is the slow burn at the beginning and the fact that Nichloas Tse character does not get much to do other then some good acting ,i so much wanted him to go on the rampage and bust some heads.
Good points of the film was seeing Simon Yam get some good action scenes under his belt though they where short ,i do think he is under used in this department as he has a great on screen persona and when he gets the chance to do some action i always enjoy it so much.And he is the Gentlemen of Hong Kong Cinema in my opinion.
Surprising point ,well Leon Lai is a actor that i have seen in many films from the Eighties and Nineties and his portrayal as Liu Yubai a beggar that came from a rich family who was a renowned martial artist is recruited by Li Yutang .For me his main fight was the fight of the film and one that stayed with me for time after.it's worth watching for this alone.
So to sum up ,Bodyguards & Assassins is a big budget film from Hong Kong that shows the Americans how to do it and at the same time holds on to it's roots as the subject matter is close to the hearts of the Chinese People.It won't get the award for the best action film this year but as a standalone film that's based on truth it show's the troubles and strife the Chinese went through.Now the only other film that i remember that touched on this subject matter was Jackie Chan's Project A pt2 but obviously in a more light hear-ted manner.
Score out of Ten = a respectable 7