31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
Didn't quite meet expectations,
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This review is from: The Assassins (DVD)
First, the description provided by Amazon and Well Go USA (on the packaging of the DVD) confused me when I first started watching the film. Both descriptions reference the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC - 24 AD), and in reality, the film was based upon events at the end of the Eastern or Later Han Dynasty (25 AD - 220 AD) and the very beginning of the Three Kingdoms period. Added to that, the film seemed to be geared towards an audience familiar with this period of time and the major players (dead and alive). As such, I spent a lot of time figuring out who was who and how they fit into the overall story. If you are not too familiar with the story either, I would suggest you briefly educate yourself on Cao Cao and Xian, Emperor of Han, making note of how Dong Zhou fits into the picture. I anticipate this will help you better engage with the characters and enhance your enjoyment of the film.
From a cinematic perspective, I thought cinematographer, Zhao Xiao Ding's, use of muted colors along with bright colors to capture the mood was particularly well done. And as a directorial debut for Zhao Lin Shan, the film was good, but not quite on par with films like 'House of Flying Daggers' or 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon'.
Finally, 'Assassins' would have benefitted from a better developed romance between Mu Shun and Ling Ju, particularly as it relates to Mu Shun's role. However, from a political intrigue perspective, it was quite well done. I also liked the inclusion of Chinese opera, it added an emotionally poignant punch at the end.
I think 'Assassins' is probably worth watching at least once, but not a film you will come back to again. (3 1/2 stars)