Legendary Assassin, a 2008 Hong Kong martial arts film, seemed rather promising especially with Wu Jing acting as the main protagonist, Bo, and Cecilia Jade making her debut as small-time cop, Holly. The movie opened with O Fortuna, a fantastic piece of music that increased my expectation for the film.
To my surprise, once the movie began I was already cringing from the extremely loud bone-breaking sounds and ridiculously choreographed moves. I was not the least bit excited when the action began. In fact, I was rather horrified at how inadequately the fighting was being developed.
What started as horror turned into utter reluctance to even continue watching the film. The plot or lack thereof, unfolds in a highly predictable manner. There seemed to be nothing that intrigued nor peaked my interest in the film, and the mere un-originality of the storyline did not provide any incentive to keep me watching this show.
The one thing that possibly saved it for me was Wu Jing’s character as Bo. He’s the deadly assassin who gives not even the slightest hint of what his purposes are. The air of mystery around him definitely began to grow on me after a while. Wu Jing did a good job developing the character; he betrayed no emotions, revealed nothing of his true intentions, and kept to his role of being a skilled assassin. The character himself does not seem to offer much to work with, but Wu Jing manages to keep Bo mysterious while at the same time let the audience see glimpses of him as a simple human via scenes where he is gobbling up food at a monstrous rate, cooking, and even washing the dishes. Adding touches of humanism to this exaggeratedly “good-at-everything” assassin role; this may very well be what kept me watching till the end.
The other characters however did not portray all-roundedness, and were rather stagnant in their roles. Sammy Leung played Tarzan, the imbecilic character; proud and brainless and he does not steer away from that role. Cecilia Jade, who makes her debut as Holly, did not have much to develop either. In less than a day, she is in love with Bo and does not try to hide it. In one scene where Holly flirts with Bo, the poorly scripted lines gave me goose bumps, but Jade definitely manages to get away with it; if not for anything but her looks.
The lack of character and plot development made me feel unattached to the movie. So much so that even during one of the potential tear-wrenching scenes, I was not moved at all. The extreme exaggeration of everything added to the amount of cringing I went through. At one point, there was a ridiculous amount of policemen, an amount that made the police force seem like an army. Rather than emphasizing a point in the movie, these exaggerations made the film even more unrealistic. From the lighting, to the sound effects, to the acting and the script, nothing impressed with me.
I really cannot ascertain if this movie was meant to be more of a comedy, an action, or a thriller film. If I had to categorize it, I would probably say it fits better under a mediocre action-thriller that treads dangerously along the lines of substandard comedy; with a side plot of barely-developed romance.
Wu Jing is an amazing martial artist but Legendary Assassin does his skills no justice, none whatsoever