Bodyguards and Assassins Review

Pulling off a good ensemble piece is a difficult task for any director. Pulling off a great ensemble action film is nearly impossible, and yet Bodyguards and Assassins does it without sacrificing great characters, quick pacing, or a compelling story. As a bonus, martial arts fans get some of the best choreographed fight sequences I've seen since Ip Man, and unlike so many martial arts films, the stakes are high and the audience can't help but get sucked in.

In Bodyguards and Assassins, revolutionary Dr. Sun Wen is planning a meeting with rebel leaders from provinces across China. The Qing Dynasty and the British colonists, desperate to maintain control over China, make plans to have Sun Wen killed. They hire a team of trained assassins to do the job. At the same time, Sun Wen's supporters hire a team of bodyguards to keep him safe. (See where the title comes from?) When the day of the meeting arrives, both sides collide, and their fight engulfs the entire city.

I only have one tiny complaint about Bodyguards and Assassins. In one of the first fight scenes of the movie, the filmmakers use CGI blood for some inexplicable reason. The CGI blood is absent from the rest of the film, thankfully, and I can honestly say that the rest of the movie is everything I want in a martial arts film. All of the fights are great, and some rise to the level of spectacular, particularly one between Donnie Yen and Cung Le. There were several moments when I had to rewind and replay a sequence in slow motion just to appreciate the elaborate fight choreography.

I mentioned before that the stakes are high in Bodyguards and Assassins. The rebels are fighting for their freedom and a better future for their country, and they are willing to sacrifice everything in order to keep Sun Wen safe. Despite its somewhat silly title, Bodyguards and Assassins is not a mindless action movie. There are some very sad moments, and many main characters die before the credits roll. That being said, this is the perfect martial arts movie for audiences who want more than just a cool fight. Now that Bodyguards and Assassins is released in the U.S., I hope it finds a new audience on DVD because this movie certainly deserves it.

DVD Bonus Features

The DVD release includes five making-of featurettes, interviews with the cast and crew, the film's trailer, and a QR Code for additional bonus material for those who want even more extras.

"Bodyguards and Assassins" is on sale July 26, 2011 and is not rated. Action, Drama, Martial-Arts. Directed by Teddy Chan. Written by Tin Nam Chun, Junli Guo, Bing Wu, James Yuen. Starring Bingbing Fan, Bo Chieh Wang, Cung Le, Donnie Yen, Eric Tsang, Jun Hu, Leon Lai, Nicholas Tse, Simon Yam, Tony Leung Ka Fai, Xueqi Wang, Yuchun Li, Yun Zhou.

Rachel Kolb • Staff Writer

I love movies, writing, and breaking into song in public. You can follow me on Twitter @rachelekolb or check out more of my work at


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