March 3, 2011

Legendary Assassin (Chung Chi Li and Jacky Wu, 2008)


WHAT IT IS: Following the murder of an important triad boss, the assassin is trapped on the small island where the deed occurred due to weather conditions. Using his dazzling martial arts and impeccable professional skills, he must evade capture by the local triad out to avenge their leader and escape police capture, all the while lugging around his victim’s head.

HOW IT IS: As a big fan of Hong Kong cinema, I must say it was very disappointing to see Legendary Assassin. Although it hearkens back old HK martial arts films, in its premise and in the relationships between would-be enemies (here between the protagonist and a cute female officer), it fails to capture any of their magic and originality, adopting the tirelessly ridiculous clichés of the genre instead of surpassing them and opting for bare characterization of its characters, turning them into pastiche of real people. The musical score doesn’t help it any, always pushing to imbue a scene or sequence with meaning that it just doesn’t possess. The martial arts are laughable, unrealistic and amateurish, pitting the protagonist with wave after wave of triad members with no sense of any dangerous stakes, the outcome always as predictable as the sun’s movements.

Legendary Assassin, uninspired and instantly forgettable, is to be viewed only in cases of extreme boredom.

IF YOU LIKE: Hong Kong films, martial arts films.