HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Iceman
Blue Sky
Tokyo Dragon Chef
Pittsburgh
12 Hour Shift
Intergalactic Adventures of Max Cloud, The
Spoilers, The
Killer Therapy
Man Upstairs, The
Bloodhound, The
New Mutants, The
Tesla
Flame of New Orleans, The
Ham on Rye
Imperial Blue
Tenet
August 32nd on Earth
Don is Dead, The
Seven Sinners
Body of Water
Away
Soul
About Endlessness
Let It Snow
Ava
Deliver Us from Evil
Shark Attack 3: Megalodon
Midnight Sky, The
Lego Star Wars Holiday Special, The
Mon Oncle Antoine
Blast of Silence
Blackout, The
Stars in Your Eyes
Alone
Climate of the Hunter
Farewell Amor
Let's Scare Julie
Okko's Inn
Shaolin vs. Wu Tang
Fatman
   
 
Newest Articles
The Price of Plague: The Masque of the Red Death on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Seance on a Wet Afternoon and Ring of Spies
Chaney Chillers: Inner Sanctum Mysteries - The Complete Film Series on Blu-ray
Adelphi Extras: Stars in Your Eyes on Blu-ray
Toons for the Heads: Fantastic Planet and Adult Animation
Nature Girl: The New World on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Perfect Friday and Robbery
Network Double Bills: The House in Nightmare Park and The Man Who Haunted Himself
Newley Minted: The Strange World of Gurney Slade on Blu-ray
Bad Love: The Night Porter on Blu-ray
Brevity is the Soul of Weird: Short Sharp Shocks on Blu-ray
Get Your Ass to Mars: Total Recall on Blu-ray
Call the Professionals: Le Cercle Rouge on Blu-ray
When There's No More Room in Hell: Dawn of the Dead on Blu-ray
The Butterfly Effect: Mothra on Blu-ray
Living Room Theatre: Play for Today Volume 1 on Blu-ray
Didn't He Do Well: The Bruce Forsyth Show on DVD
Blood Wedding: The Bride with White Hair on Blu-ray
The Inhuman Element: The Ladykillers on 4K UHD
As You Like It, Baby: Breathless on Blu-ray
Stargazing: Light Entertainment Rarities on DVD
Down to the Welles: Orson Welles Great Mysteries Volume 2 on DVD
Herding Cats: Sleepwalkers on Blu-ray
Confessions of a Porn Star: Adult Material on DVD
They're Still Not Sure It is a Baby: Eraserhead on Blu-ray
   
 
  Assassin, The The Emperor must die
Year: 1967
Director: Chang Cheh
Stars: Jimmy Wang Yu, Chiao Chiao, Lee Heung-Gwan, Tien Feng, Wong Chung-Shun, Cliff Lok, Lam Jing, Fang Mian, Cheung Pooi-Saan, Cheng Lui, Wang Kuang-Yu, Ma Ying, Chiu Sam-Yin, Wong Ching-Ho, Woo Tung, Lau Gong, Yau Lung
Genre: Drama, Martial Arts, Historical, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Fresh off their groundbreaking success with One-Armed Swordsman (1967), Shaw Brothers re-teamed writer-director Chang Cheh with iconic star Jimmy Wang Yu for The Assassin. More than two-thousand years ago during China’s “warring states period”, numerous city-state kingdoms were consolidated into seven major states, along with a few minor enclaves. Wealthy warlords vied for power, aiming to unite China under their iron fist. At the palace of the Han emperor (Cliff Lok), scheming prime minister Han Kui (Wong Chung-Shun) suggests they should betray their own people to the Qing invaders in return for a share in the new empire. But the boy ruler prefers the sagely council of Yen Chung Tzu (Tien Feng). Enraged, Han Kui stages a secret attack on Tzu’s family.

Meanwhile, miles away from the corrupt Han court, wise Master Wu Ji (Fang Mian) runs a school for righteous swordsmen, stressing the ideals of honour, valour and decency. His prized pupil is Nieh Zheng (Jimmy Wang Yu), who defends his ladylove Xia Ying (Chiao Chiao) against the lewd advances of rich boy, Xu Shi (Cheung Pooi-Saan). Expelled for dirty fighting, Xu betrays Master Wu to the prime minister whose killers murder the old man and slaughter his students. All except for Nieh Zheng who single-handedly trounces the enemy. Years after taking revenge on Xu Shi, Nieh Zheng is living as a humble butcher when Yen Chung Tzu arrives and offers him a fortune in gold for a deadly assignment. Zheng’s mother (Lam Ying) convinces him not to go, but a few years after she dies and his loyal sister (Cheng Lui) has married, the swordsman agrees to set out on a suicide mission.

Some readers may spot a few plot parallels between this film and Zhang Yimou’s acclaimed masterpiece: Hero (2003). Both movies were inspired by the story of a great swordsman who attempted to assassinate the First Emperor of China. It is a popular fable amongst the Chinese even though it essentially boils down to the story of a man who dithered for ages over whether to kill the Qing Emperor, then failed to do so. However, Chang Cheh tweaks the target of Nieh Zheng’s wrath and reworks the historical drama into an affirmation of his own manly ideals. One best embodied by that old John Wayne adage: “a man’s gotta do, what a man’s gotta do.”

As so often in Chang’s films, women are, somewhat objectionably it must be said, portrayed as a hindrance to those out to do good in this world. Both Xia Ying and Zheng’s mother believe it is better to live in peace than to take a stand for what is right. “Give up these dreams. Be content with what we are”, urges Xia Ying, only for Zheng to argue: “It would be wonderful to die a hero’s death and save the country.” In our troubled times it might sound perverse to commend a movie that so unabashedly valorises a suicidal assassin, but The Assassin outlines its argument intelligently with great poetry and skill. It remains one of the rare Chang Cheh/Shaw Brothers epics as concerned with character and drama as action and spectacle. Domesticity drives Zheng to become an embittered alcoholic until Yen Chung Tzu puts a sword back in his hand, allowing him a chance to protest an injustice. Some of the film’s sloganeering (“The only way to achieve our ambitions is to die for them”) is debatable to say the least, but on a human level it is moving watching Zheng shower his beloved with gifts, knowing he will never return. The action, choreographed Liu Chia-liang (a great director in his own right), is largely confined to the third act, wherein our man Jimmy explodes into righteous fury killing literally hundreds of villainous soldiers.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 3953 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Andrew Pragasam
Stately Wayne Manor
Enoch Sneed
  Geraint Morgan
Paul Smith
  Lee Fiveash
   

 

Last Updated: