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The Assassin (1993) is one of the few Hong Kong movies to earn a
category III rating just for it's shear brutality. Usually a CAT. III
is awarded for excessive sex, nudity or violence but this one was
earned for it's bloody carnage. Rosamund Kwan co-stars as the former
love of Fengyi Zhang. Kwan and Zheng are two lovers who's love for each
other is forbidden. When Zheng refuses to acknowledge this, he's
imprisoned and brutally punished. While in prison, he becomes an
assassin for an evil eunuch. Upon his release, he tutors an up and
coming assassin (Max Mok). while under his wing, Mok slowly turns into
something that Zheng could never be.
Highly recommended for H.K. Cinema fans. Be warned because this film is violent!!
I was impressed of Hong Kong Movies, this film is full of swordplay that will entertain you. Even when the emperor fought with his maidens and he ripped them apart one by one or the torture, when they used a needle to close his eyes and it was hard to watch. This film is great, well the problem is the acting. Max Mok acting was a bit silly but the others were fine. Do you know what bothers me about this movie, is when Rasmond screams like a cat front of his lover. Really, watch it with your family and besides, the movie that were nominated Oscar and Golden are all crap. Even the people have bad taste, don't listen to your grandma or grandpa. You have to choose and don't let anyone stop you. Watch it, its entertaining.
Assassin should be considered another lightweight entry into the dark
HK swordplay/action genre, like The Blade, Ashes of Time, and the
Burning Paradise. The film has a great premise- A country bumpkin and
lover, Tong Po, falls in love with a girl (Rosamund Kwan) he is not
to marry. They try to run away together, but they are captured and he is
thrown into a jail where his eyes are sewn shut. Next, his eyes are opened
to find himself and some fellow prisoners in a gladiatorial ring where
must kill each other in order to survive, the last man standing gets to
and be trained as an executioner for a power corrupted eunuch. Tong Po
of course, becomes an adept killing machine, is renamed Tong Chop, and
an apprentice who both idolizes and wants to replace him. During one
nighttime raid, Tong sees Rosamund and his past starts creeping back on
so he leaves the killing business and hides out with her in her village
where she has remarried and has a son. But, his old life as a prominent
killer is not easily left behind, and both his protégé and the powerful
eunuch are out for his blood, leading to the bloody conclusion
It has a great story, pretty good cinematography, and the gore one comes to expect (the eunuch likes to tear his victims in two, and of course the swordplay involves many geysers of blood), but it suffers from poor production values and lack of a charismatic lead. The film has serious `fright wig' syndrome, with some laughable costumes and really bad, uneven, frizzy wigs on Tong Chop and his protégé. With a more substantial budget, design, and casting of a better lead this could have been a great film. It could definitely benefit from being remade.
The Assassin is a very violent and well done swordplay epic. The tone and storytelling are very consistent in this film. Zhang Fengyi, Max Mok, Rosamund Kwan and the rest of the cast did a real good job in bringing this story and world to life. The film has little humor and maintains a cold and bleak tone to show the harsh and unforgiving lives of assassins(and their victims) in Ming Dynasty China. The Assassin looks beautiful, but maintains a gritty tone and style. The fight choreography is not very flashy here, but very effective and at times very brutal. The action is quite savage and the violence gets real graphic with brutal beheadings, disembowelments and other assorted kung fu carnage. There are nods to Japanese samurai films as well as American westerns. Overall, The Assassin is very well done and is a top notch Chinese swordsman movie.
This film offers plenty: perfectly choreographed swordfights with dozens of men, a nice plot and gore. The fast-paced action sequences are well timed during the film so I have never been bored while watching the movie. Everyone who liked A Chinese Ghost Story should not hesitate and get this film. One last word to the gore hounds: Though there are lots of amputations, everything happens so fast that you hardly have time to watch it, but don't cry: there is a scene where a man gets his eyes sewn and it is shown very explicit. Overall this film is worth a 9/10.
The Assassin (1993) is directed by Hong Kong film maker Siu Hung Cheung
(Love To Kill), and it stars Max Mok and Rosamund Kwan as lovers who are
separated during the Ming Dynasty era by some villagers who don't accept
their marriage. He is captured and sent to horrible torture prison in which
his eyes are sewn shut in graphic detail. Soon he gets an opportunity to
fight 7 other convicts and if he wins, he gets a chance to become the evil
emperor's super effective hitman and that he does. He works as a ruthless
killer/assassin, until he meets Rosamund again accidentally and starts to
have memories about his lost love and past life. He decides to quit as an
assassin, but it is clear his master won't accept that and then the quest
for life and love begins. This is in many ways similar with Ronny Yu's
masterpiece Bride With White Hair.
The main theme in The Assassin is love, piece and morality of killing in general. Kwan's character is so warm and beautiful (both mentally and physically), it is clear that the main character understands the value of this and cannot continue his way of living in the dark side by killing people. The main themes in Bride were desperate love and trust more importantly, as all the hell broke loose when Brigitte Lin noticed she had been betrayed by the one he loves in Bride. The theme in The Assassin, however, is more about piece and safety and the depiction of killing's immorality. The main character learns that life is much more rewarding when he does good things instead of bad like killing and avenging. This is not as deep and philosophic film as it could be, but still these symbols and themes are present and make this film more powerful experience for me.
The sword fights and wire fu is breath takingly brilliant and shot with equally striking power as in Bride With White Hair. The magic created in The Assassin is wonderful as the whole film is so dark and bathes in blue and menacing smoke and mist. The exteriors are as fantastic as the interiors so the cinematography in The Assassin is very convincing and memorable. The fight scenes themselves are professionally staged and as fierce as they come. They are over-the-top violent and gory in the tradition of Japanese samurai films like Baby Cart films. The fierceness in the fight scenes is taken even further by using angry blood and gore in the scenes and those scenes are as symbolic here as they would be in a book so I definitely don't think this is gratuitously violent and exploiting. Still, this film got CAT III rating originally due to the excessive violence which includes many torso splittings, poison deaths and other acts of savage violence. The one fight scene near the end is in slow motion and is perhaps the greatest fight in the whole movie as it really depicts the decay and wickedness which lives in the world and inside its characters. I think the sword fights are as great here as in Bride With White Hair.
The Assassin is extremely highly recommended for lovers of Hong Kong "fly fu" and wuxia films, and I was pleasantly surprised by the high merits of this pretty unknown film. The Assassin can and is recommended to be seen many times since it unfolds and gives more by each viewing, which is usually the case with Hong Kong and Asian films. 9/10
The fighting was dull and unspectacular, the story was likewise rather boring and cliched. The action tries to get by on the sheer force of its violence rather than by exciting, well choreographed sequences. There certainly is a lot of violence, rather graphic in relation to other movies of the genre (many beheadings and dismemberments, and most notably an eye-sewing-shut scene), but it is a VERY poor substitute for good action. I think it's terribly unfortunate that this movie has received full DVD release and The Blade (Dao) (1995) has not, as that movie shared the same form of unnerving violence, but it was much, MUCH better done on every level.
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