It is with great reluctance I talk about director John Woo’s upcoming latest mega-movie Reign of Assassins or 劍雨, which marks his first foray into the wuxia genre (Red Cliff was a fantasy cosplay of Takeshi-Tony homoeroticism historical war movie). My goodwill for John Woo has dwindled to tolerance, and I would have happily skipped this movie but for the involvement of Jung Woo Sung as the leading man.
Alas, my desire to see my I Lub You in a wuxia production has been answered, but it’s the wrong wuxia story (a Gu Long – emo, existential, as opposed to a Louis Cha – bromance, epic loves), the wrong wuxia vehicle (I want him in a wuxia drama, not a movie!), and the wrong director (Tsui Hark, people, old-school Tsui Hark would know what to do with Jung Woo Sung).
Still, since I have Athena to look forward to, I won’t rag on Reign of Assassins too much, other than to say it doesn’t look ideal. I can’t explain why, other than my over twenty years worth of wuxia watching experience tells me something is off, i.e. my wuxia sense is tingling for the wrong reasons.
The mood, the pace, the design, it all feels too over-staged. Wong Kar Wei can do something like this when he deconstructed wuxia in Ashes of Times, but John Woo doesn’t have the same indie cred to mess with the genre.
Official English-language trailer
Latest Chinese trailer
I don’t know, maybe I’ve become cranky and cantankerous with age, and that a teenage me would have loved Reign of Assassins the way I loved Swordsman II. Since I haven’t seen the move yet, who knows, maybe it will be an awesome wuxia gem.
Alas, they made my I Lub You look like a ragtag ahjusshi, and that is a travesty. I also hate the English name change, from Rain of Swords (the literal translation of the title and so poetic), to Reign of Assassins (just so ugh and generic). Nevertheless, I will be keeping an eye out for this movie, and letting y’all know whether it in fact does suck or was surprisingly good. Reign of Assassins comes out September 28, 2010.
There are actually lots of big names in this movie other than Jung Woo Sung and Michelle Yeoh, who from the stills I’ve presented appear to be the only people in this movie. Reason why I don’t showcase them, because I don’t give a fig about them. And one actress in particular (Barbie Hsu) I’m pretending isn’t even in the movie. And if you still can’t quite figure out what the movie is about, it’s about a gang of assassins and their assassinations and their not wanting to do any more assassinating, with some betrayals and nookie thrown in for good measure.