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Peng Zhang Li
Jeremy Marr Williams,
Zhang Ming Fang,
Li Zhong He
A stark, brilliant, uncompromising tale of imperial intrigue and self- fulfilling prophecies, with a star cast helmed by Yun-Fat Chow and Yifei Liu, TONG QUE TAI (THE ASSASSINS) is one of the better Mandarin films in recent years, and easily ranks with such lush historical epics as CHI BI (RED CLIFF) and MAN CHENG JIN DAI HAUNG JIN JIA (CURSE OF THE GOLDEN FLOWER).
A fictionalized account of the events leading to the fall of the Eastern Han Dynasty in 220 CE, as seen primarily from the point of view of Gong Ling Juone of many refugees abducted as children, then brutally trained for a decade solely to murder the powerful Duke of Wei, Chancellor Cao Cao. A military genius, adored king, scholar and poet, Cao Cao has been unswervingly loyal to the Han, even feckless current Emperor Xian. But an astrological prediction cast years before foretells that Cao's destiny is to end the Han eraand Xian's courtiers will stop at nothing to thwart "heaven's will". Might their sneak attacks and murder plots only push Chancellor Cao into the rebellion they want to prevent? Or might Cao's growing affection for and trust in his concubine, Ling Ju, prove the weakness that gives her an opportunity to kill her lover?
Solid performances, gorgeous cinematography, and a taut script weaving spectacle with reflection make TONG QUE TAI a skillfully wrought Asian history-based drama.
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