Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

After seeing Hong Action star Jacky Wu Jing in strong supporting roles such his bad guy characters in the highly entertaining films ‘Kill Zone’ and ‘Invisible Target’, considering this cat displays a level physical ability seen about once every twenty or so years – the kind of skill that all the camera tricks and wires in the world can’t duplicate – I’m fairly certain that he’s destined to be the next great martial arts star for the next decade to come. All he needs is a decent star vehicle to complete his transformation from spectacular supporting man to spectacular leading man. ‘Legendary Assassin’, in which Wu Jing co-directs along with Chung Chi Li ain’t that movie. It’s not a terrible film by any means, but just one that feels like it left the oven a little bit under cooked.

We meet Wu Jing’s character of Bo as he descends on some island in China, single minded of focus on his mission at hand. This mission is finding a big boss calling himself Chairman Ma (Zhan-wen Keu) who’s in the midst of enjoying a most hedonistic evening filled with booze, drugs and whores… with Bo’s plan to kill his ass in the most painful way possible. Oh, and take his head as a souvenir. Even if Chairman Ma weren’t drunk and high we suspect their battle wouldn’t have been any less one-sided as Bo handles his business quite effectively, this after easily disabling the Chairman’s bodyguards, and proceeds to make his way off the island the next day with his prize in tow.

A bit of a snag halts his plan to get off the island as there is big time hurricane or something bearing down which halts all ferry’s. Now Bo is kind of stuck on this island for a bit, but this does allow him to spend some time with a woman he has recently met, arguably worlds most adorable police constable named Hiu War (Celina Jade), with the pair striking up an immediate friendship, even combining to do battle with a trio of thugs in an outdoor diner. Bo, quite honestly, handled the majority of the heavy lifting in this battle. Also making it on this little island before the hurricane hit is a group of mobsters led by Fat Wing (the ubiquitous Lam Suet) who are looking for Chairman Ma’s killer and almost more importantly, at the behest of the Chairman’s hot young violent wife Miho (Noriko Aoyama), his missing head.

So now the stage is set for on one side you have Bo being pursued by a gang of brutal mobsters, on the other side you have the police pursing a decapitating murderer who they don’t know is Bo, at least as of yet, and in between you have Bo kicking much ass and the worlds most adorable Police Constable torn between duty and love. Or something along those lines.

Taken at face value it appears that everything that one would require for an action filled Hong Kong beatemup is place. We have the magnetic, athletic and charismatic star, a cute female lead who actually gets do stuff as opposed to just being cute and getting herself captured, which we know will happen anyway, a mean gangster who doesn’t play games and plenty of fight scenes. So what’s missing?

I think the main ingredient that’s absent from ‘Legendary Assassin’ is electricity. For a film that is billed as an action movie is it is rather languidly paced, and considering how relatively slow the film moves it thus has to rely on the elements of plot, story and acting to bridge us in between the fight scenes, but they weren’t all that interesting to completely hold our attention. The story itself is an interesting one but as the movie rolls along it’s not developed all that well and it’s not like they didn’t have the space or the time to do this since the movie was ultimately filled with an awful lot of worthless comedic fluff. As far as the performances go, Wu Jing made the decision early on to be the unemotional badass displaying none of the venom that we’ve seen in his roles as the heavy and as such he doesn’t elicit nearly enough compassionate charm for the audience to completely root for his character, particularly since we’re pretty much left in the dark in why he’s doing what he’s doing. Celina Jade did well enough with the largely thankless role of the damsel in distress, but other familiar talented actors didn’t give much service to plot and were instead relegated to toss off roles in favor of, as we said before, comedic and romantic filler. Then there was Noriko Aoyama who was supposed to be our uber evil Dragon Lady, but considering she looks like she’s about twenty three and is almost as adorable as Celine Jade, it was difficult to buy into that character at all.

The fight scenes were pretty good, but the final fight scene with Wu Jing versus the entire city of Beijing was a bit over the top. Think Neo vs. the two thousand Agents in ‘Matrix Reloaded’. So even despite the fact that ‘Legendary Assassin’ was ultimately a disappointment we still think that eventually Jacky Wu Jing will achieve that super stardom which will eventually lead him to making terrible western action flicks with Jason Stratham. It’s just a matter of time.

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