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Bodyguards and Assassins


Stars: Donnie Yen, Nicholas Tse, Tony Leung, Yuchun Li, Leon Lai, Jun Hu, Po-chieh Wang, Cung Le, Xuque Wang

Director: Teddy Chen

After an interminable two hours, this period epic finally bursts into action life, turning the early days of the Chinese Revolution under Sun Yat-sen into a cross between The Magnificent Seven and a kung fu movie. Getting there, however, will test the patience of the most ardent of martial arts fans.

The reconstruction of Hong Kong in 1906 is breathtakingly impressive. Unfortunately, not much else about the film is. The 'seven' aren't particularly sympathetic or three-dimensional characters, the villains strictly bogeymen from a Chinese fairytale.

Sun Yat-sen visits the crown colony for an important conflab (held in a bunker below ground) and must be protected from multiple would-be assassins from the ruling Manchu dynasty. This requires a decoy 'Sun' - and a 17-year-old, who has just won a scholarship to Yale University in America, and is the son of the newspaper owner who leads local revolutionaries, naturally wins the drawn to be 'it'.

A giant, a girl, a rickshaw driver, a beggar and others make up the seven who try to keep him safe.

Much too much talk weighs the film down to sinking point for nearly two hours, but those still awake may enjoy the rather uninvolving chop-socky at the end.

David Quinlan

Hong Kong 2009. UK Distributor: E1 Entertainment. Colour.
139 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 08 May 2010