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Inspirography: Reign of Assassins

Easily my favorite wuxia film of recent years, Reign of Assassins marks the triumphant come-back of 90s HK movie star Michelle Yeoh, in a film that is co-directed by none other than John Woo. In nearly every respect, Reign of Assassins is a brilliant film.

The film tells the story of a woman who runs away from her secret society of assassins, the Dark Stone gang, and (after changing her appearance with a bizarre period-chinese-medicine version of a facelift) tries to live a normal life as a cloth-seller. It comes as no surprise, of course, when she is forced to reveal her skills during a bank robbery, and her former compatriots are alerted to her presence.

Directors Su Chao-pin and John Woo weave a beautiful tale featuring the classic elements for this kind of tale: Doomed romance, secret sects warring over relics that supposedly will provide mastery over the Martial Arts World, assassins with unique fighting styles, sinister eunuchs, and even a merciless, seductive femme fatale. The camera work (as you’d expect from any film touched by John Woo) is beautiful, and the fights, choreographed by Stephen Tung-Wai, are fast, furious and inventive.

I found inspiration for Far West in the idea of an assassin putting down her weapons and walking away, trying to disappear into the frontier, to live a quiet life, far from the bloodshed of the past. In a tale such as this, of course, the core lesson is that you can never run away from your past — and you cannot deny what you are. The question is: what can you become?

Reign of Assassins is available in the US via Amazon on DVD as well as on Blu-Ray. It is worth tracking down. As a preview, check out the original Chinese trailer:

3 Comments

  1. wandering blade says:

    awesome to finally see the wuxia mark in the inspirography, Reign is truly a grogeous movie, highly recomended

  2. Dave says:

    My favorite wuxia film in the last 10 years. Nice pick.

  3. Gobbo says:

    Damn Netflix for not having this one…

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