The Assassin's Blade Blu-ray Review
THE ASSASSIN’S BLADE spins a frequently told Chinese tale about doomed lovers. The English equivalent would be of course Romeo and Juliet. There are many similarities here that parallel that story including class struggles and crossed wires. It is a beautifully shot romantic drama with some nice martial arts thrown in.
Charlene Choi plays Zhu Yanzhi, an adventurous young woman who keeps having a dream about meeting her destined lover in a colorful garden. Early on Yanzhi is whisked off to a prestigious martial arts school. Reasons behind this move are made clearer later on. There is one slight problem. She has to pretend to be a boy to get in. The biggest complaint I have for this film is that you never believe she is a guy. Sure she wraps up her lady parts, but you can’t hide her face or her mannerisms. It takes a lot more to fool people than to put your hair up and tuck things in. It would be a dead giveaway of her gender spending one minute with her. Having said all of that, I still was able to suspend my disbelief to enjoy what was on display.
Yanzhi is tutored at the academy by Liang (Chun Wu). He is called Big Brother by the other students. At first the duo butt heads over her commitment and her general carefree attitude. But you know how these types of stories unfurl. The antagonists become smitten with each other. Liang knows in the back of his head that Yanzhi is a woman. He also has had the same dreams about the beautiful garden.
With many love stories, there has to be a third party involved. Here is no exception. Ma (Ge Hu), a family friend of Yanzhi, takes up that mantle. He is practically a brother to her. And she actually refers to him as Brother Ma. Brother Ma is making his way up in the world. It is never quite clear whether he is a member of a gang or a military unit. This really is irrelevant to the grand scheme. Every time they focus on the politics here, the film loses steam. He plants some kind of evidence against a rival and kills someone he knows personally in the process. He also helps Yanzhi’s parents out of a bad situation. Once again the screenplay gets murky explaining what is happening and who is behind certain things.
The love story is the main focus and it is nicely realized. Choi doesn’t play a convincing guy, but you are won over by her personality. There is a gleefulness that she exhibits that is contagious. The chemistry between her and Wu is easily seen and felt.
Director Jingle Ma has a visual flair that is appealing. Bright colors are used to great effect in the way of the garden, butterflies, costumes and landscape. I found the action scenes to be well staged. There was certain elegance and grace with the movements of the actors here. It was like a ballet with feet and fist flying. In the beginning these sequences had more of a comic feel to them. You will appreciate the humor amongst the mayhem. As the stages grow larger, it is more serious and subdued. The things people do for love knows no bounds.
THE ASSASSIN’S BLADE is a fun flick with a touching love story and exciting martial arts scenes. The screenplay could have been more concise and clear, but why quibble when you are having this much fun.
Video: The bright colors are on full display here and beautifully realized.
Audio: There are no complaints from me about the sound. You will hear clearly every clang of the swords and every kick to the face.
Trailer: It is disappointing that there are basically no special features other than the trailer and the previews. This is a wasted opportunity to discuss the fight scenes or the age old love story.