Rent it for the story, not the fights...
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I must admit, I was suckered into buying this off the shelf cause it promised on the packaging that the fights would "satisfy even the most hardened action fan". Well, if you're new to this genre then the fights might satisfy you, but if you've seen others like this they won't be very special. Most of the fights are of the wire-fu variety but two stand out. There is a fight involving an overpass that reminded me of a Shaw Brothers fight scene. Involving lots of fighters with weapons, the scene looked as if it was shot on a studio set and had a claustrophobic feel to it. The other scene stood out cause it was so lame. The second half of a two-part fight at the end, this scene was lame cause it reminded me of the ending in "Burning Paradise"(highly recommended) where the all-powerful evil eunach guy used magic instead of martial arts to fight his opponent. Having said that, the story is where the film really captures you. There's a tragic love story in here, but the competition between the three top main assassins quickly become the main plot-line as the film progresses. I really found this aspect of the film very engaging. Our main character is the #2 assassin, he is looked up to by his protoge the #3 top assassin(interestingly, the movie takes his point of view at times in the movie), while lurking in the background is the #1 assassin. The competition between these 3 to be the top is very interesting and held my interest despite the lack of "excellent" fights. However, even this aspect was not without its shortcomings. The #1 assassin's character was not developed enough. We get into #2 and #3's relationship, as well as the former relationship between #2 and his lover, but the top assassin doesn't have much of a background. So despite the lack of budget for the film, the omission of more character development(for one character anyway), good but non-spectacular action sequences, and the fact that assassin #3 looks like a guitarist for an 80's Japanese metal band, I can still recommend this film as a rental at least because of its storyline. If you want a similar-themed story but with more intense fights check out Tsui Hark's "The Blade". Or try the previously mentioned "Burning Paradise" by Ringo Lam. (DVD info: Tai Seng spec. ed., widescreen, different trailers, and an informative 3-participant audio commentary)."
P. A Clark | San Jose, CA USA | 04/22/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I bought this film without knowing a thing about it. After viewing it, I was completely satisfied. THe Assassin is a great swordplay film. The director filmed it focusing more on art content rather than action, but it still delivered the action with finess. I would put the style of the film along the lines of Bride with White Hair, but with more action.(The Assassinn has at least 7 cool fight scenes which all seem to have their own style)The plot is good, and free of comedy. The actors are well suited to their roles. Particuarlly Max Mok, with his wild hair style as he assassinates his targets. The background music also compliments the secens. The English dubbed feature is quite good, if you don't like subtitles. Their is also a Vietnamese, Cantonese and Mandarin, language track if your curious about language versions. Tai Seng is getting better with its releases. For the price, The Assassin is a great pick. It's short, about 81 minutes, but you'll probabally want to view it more than once to take in the story, art direction, and of course the fight scenes.My wife liked this film too which is rare.If you're curious about The Assassin, try it out, I'm sure you'll like it."