Tag Archives: han dynasty

The Assassins – Review

28 Oct

Historical epics can make for some of the most entertaining and cool movies you could ever see. Just think of movies like Gladiator and Spartacus. These are just two examples that really stick out in my mind. However, there are some that really just suck the big one, and The Assassins is one of those movies. It really hurts to say this because it is such a beautiful film and the history involved is really cool, dealing with the end of the Han dynasty. Unfortunately, a lot of the film just feels boring and disconnected, characters are wasted, and I feel like I’m not getting all of the history that I should be getting.


Set during the end of the Han dynasty, Lingju (Liu Yifei) and Mu Shun (Hiroshi Tamaki) are two assassins sent to the Bronze Sparrow Terrace to kill the King of Wei, Cao Cao (Chow Yun-fat). While dealing with their own feelings towards each other, they are also witness to a volatile political and familial conflict between the ruling powers. As Lingju becomes closer to Cao Cao, she sees him less as a god among men, but as a man surrounded by corruption and betrayal, which forces him to heighten his guard as attempts on his life come from all sides.

This is a time period that I’m not too familiar with, but one that I’ve always wanted to know more about. I thought that this was going to be a good opportunity to start learning more, but there really isn’t a lot of legit history going on in The Assassins, more so a really bland romantic version of what sort of happened. There are moments that are taken from actual history and is completely changed into something a lot less exciting than how it all went down. I understand that many film makers take dramatic license with fact, but that’s usually to make a movie more intense. The license taken with the history in this movie actually made it more boring than it should have been.



I have to say, that this is am amazing looking film with excellent production values and talent that went into the visual aesthetics of the movie. The costumes are flawless and really help capture the period that this movie takes place during. The sets are also great. The design of the Bronze Sparrow Terrace is very believable and all of the other scenery outside the Terrace looks beautiful. There aren’t to many action sequences, but when they do happen it’s a wonder to look at. One scene at the end uses slow motion very well, but still remains believable. Unfortunately, for all of this good stuff, it isn’t part of a better movie. Still, it does save the movie from becoming a total waste.

I can’t even buy a lot of the performances. Chow-Yun-fat seems into his role as Cao Cao, but the two assassins, who I assume the movie is named after, are completely wasted. The whole romance between the two is completely unnecessary and it seems like the film makers knew that because they don’t spend to much time on it. The most interesting stuff is the political intrigue concerning Cao Cao and the emperor, but the intrigue is pretty much all fabricated so that makes what is actually interesting feel wasted as well.

The Assassins is pretty much a waste of a movie that had so much potential. The only thing the film has going for it is the visuals, costumes, and Chow Yun-fat’s performance. Even these things can’t completely save the movie. Before seeing the film, I read that it really wasn’t anything impressive, but considering the subject matter, I couldn’t really believe it. Well, after seeing it, everything I read was true. If you want a blandly romanticized version of history, check out The Assassins.