Review: Legendary Assassins (2008)

Up-and-coming superstar Jacky Wu Jing brings us his directorial debut in his movie Legendary Assassins, which he also stars in.  Is it Jacky Wu’s big chance to shine as one of the big new superstars of Hong Kong action?

No.  This movie is painful.  It is steeped in cliche, all the while trying to paint Wu Jing’s character as a classic badass-loner/traveler-out-to-get-revenge-for-some-reason™.  Revenge plots are of course a classic kung fu staple, however, most of this is buried under a heavy subplot of him falling in love with a beautiful detective who’s having a birthday.   I’m sorry to tell you, this birthday is apparently a bigger deal than a Hallmark Channel TV movie.  You’ll have to be sitting through their birthday shenanigans for a long time.

There’s so much talking.  SO much talking!  And making dinner.  And talking while making dinner.  And because the dialogue is boring, the characters feel very uninspired, so you don’t really care about them.  Kari Hui makes a cameo, but it isn’t substantial or very exciting (unlike her appearance the excellent movie WUXIA).

Legendary Kara Hui! In a brief cameo, with a scene of Jacky eating, of course.

Legendary Kara Hui! In a brief cameo while Jacky… eats food.

At the same time, he tries to mix in comedy antics in the scenes at the police station, which I assume is to lighten the mood or make some characters more appealing.  Unfortunately, it just adds to the boredom.

Oh my god, are we still cooking and talking?!... When are we going to get to the fireworks factory?!?!...

Oh my god, are we still cooking and talking?!… When are we going to get to the fireworks factory?!?!…

Usually kung fu fans can be very forgiving of a terrible plot and horribly trodding story if we’re rewarded with excellent fight scenes.  However, this movie definitely does not deliver this either.

The action feels very self-indulgent and soooo trying to be cool.  The real problem for me is the lack of rhythm and weight to any of the action.  It’s always special move / pose / special move / pose…  In the process of trying to make sure we appreciate how cool he looks after each move, we get no sense of rhythm of action to get into.  I’m not always opposed to wire work, but this movie heavily relies on it, making a lot of the action feel weightless.  The camera work does us no favors as well, as it just shows enough to reveal extreme shots of Wu Jing posing like he’s selling cologne in a commercial, trying to impress us all like we’re still in high school.

This is the most exciting part of the movie, for better or worse. At least they're not cooking.

This is the most exciting part of the movie, for better or worse. At least they’re not cooking.

Should I watch it?

I hate to say it, but feel there’s really no redeeming qualities of this flick.  The worst part is that I really wanted to love this movie.  The final fight in the rain has its moments, but really the most exciting part about that scene was the crazy stunts.

However, I refuse to give up on Wu Jing!  I recommend TAI CHI FIST as a great intro to him.  SPL is also good for the fights, and Wu Jing really gets to show off, albeit for only 2 short scenes.  So far my favorite film is SPL 2: A TIME FOR CONSEQUENCES (where I reviewed here), which was amazing.  So watch Wu Jing… just not this movie.

Story Rating: 1 out of 5 stars (1 / 5) Kung Fu Rating: 2 out of 5 stars (2 / 5)

Posted on December 2, 2015 in Kung Fu Movie Reviews, Kung Fu Theatre

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About the Author

Aaron Andersen is the creative director of Legendary Weapons of LA. He's a designer, animator and avid fan of kung fu cinema.

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