Reign of Assassins (2010)
Reviewed by: STSH on 2015-04-06
Summary: Muddled
Perhaps I was spoilt, in that I watched Tsui Hark’s stunning Flying Swords Of Dragon Gate immediately before Reign Of Assassins. These two visually glorious wuxia screened back to back on SBS TV.

ROA suffers very much from the comparison. Where the other reviewers highly praise ROA, I see a mess. While I agree that the action set pieces are spectacular, they are still no match for Hark’s tectonic brilliance. The familiar story, of a former hero living a normal life who is called upon to become a hero again, should have worked well.

Unfortunately, the sequencing of the story is simply atrocious. Things start off okay. The opening scenes jump around from action to plot development which, while rather confusing, move along at a fair pace overall. Then, incredibly, the story abruptly changes to about twenty minutes of light comedy and romance. The wooing of Michelle’s character would have made a charming light romance, but for it to be told in one unbearably long and slow block was *the* critical pacing error in ROA.

Put simply, it stops the story dead in its whirling tracks. True, the bank holdup scene which follows is a blast, but it is too late.

What could have saved ROA ? Intercutting a few action sequences in with the wooing super-scene would certainly have helped, but I can’t be sure of by how much.

I hadn’t read the credits before watching ROA, so I was racking my brain for who was this actress who looked like a young Michelle Yeoh. I was amazed to find that it was indeed Michelle. Hasn’t lost her looks, and of course she is compelling to watch, but her mighty presence was not enough.

I have not rated this movie, as I lost interest about half-way through, for reasons explained. But clearly, I was unimpressed.