Reign of Assassins (2010)

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Released 22-Jun-2011

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Martial Arts Featurette-Making Of
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Eastern Eye trailers x 4
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2010
Running Time 115:02
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Su Chao-Bin
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Michelle Yeoh
Jung Woo-sung
Kelly Lin
Shawn Yue
Wang Xueqi
Barbie Hsu
Pace Wu
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $29.95 Music Anthony Chue
Peter Kam


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Mandarin dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
Mandarin Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     Drizzle (Kelly Lin) is the number one assassin for the Dark Stone Clan lead by The Wheel King (Wang Xuegi). When the clan hears of the location of half the remains of the mystical Buddhist monk Bodhi, supposed to give the possessor superior powers and control of the martial arts world, they raid the home of Minister Zhang and kill him and his family. However, Drizzle is tired of the martial arts world and longs for a new life so she steals the remains and disappears. Changing her appearance by surgery, she becomes Zeng Jing (Michelle Yeoh) and settles down as a cloth merchant, marrying the bumbling courier Jiang Ah-sheng (Jung Woo-sung). But when husband and wife are caught up in a deadly robbery, Zeng displays her martial arts skills to save them. Her abilities come to the attention of the Dark Stone Clan, and the Wheel King, Lei Bin (Shawn Yue), Turquoise (Barbie Hsu) and the Magician (Leon Dai) are quickly on her trail. But they are not the only ones seeking the monk’s remains, and nor are most people who they seem. The stage is set for some surprises and a final confrontation.

     As DanielB pointed out in his review of the Blu-ray here, Reign of Assassins is advertised as being from John Woo which is a bit misleading as it is a film written and directed by Su Chao-bin. It is a rather traditional martial arts film set in the martial arts world of clans, assassins, betrayals, a fighter who wants to leave the life and people who can fly up walls and over roofs. The fights are well staged; wire work is prevalent but not too excessive and stop and slow motion also occurs. Michelle Yeoh, as ever, shows superior fighting skills and moves fluidly, although to my mind she did seem a little old to be the bride of Jung Woo-sung. The others are also good, although Wang Xuegi as The Wheel King is perhaps the most interesting; his character has his secrets and his desires that propel the film forwards. Indeed, the plotting is also better than usual in this genre, with reasonable motivations and just enough back story to make the character of the various assassins believable. There is also a vein of humour that runs through most of the film that is refreshing.

     Reign of Assassins may not deliver anything new, but it is still an impressive martial arts film with good acting, a decent script and well staged action sequences. And of course the wonderful Michelle Yeoh is always worth watching.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Reign of Assassins is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, the original theatrical ratio, and is 16x9 enhanced.

     This is another print that has been colour manipulated. Colours are enhanced and contrasts boosted creating a look that is not real; I suppose it makes sense as we are in the unreal martial arts world. Sharpness and detail is crisp, blacks solid and shadow detail excellent. Skin tones are natural, brightness consistent. Except for some aliasing on stairs (2:12) I noted no film or film to video artefacts.

     English subtitles are in a yellow font and are easy to read. I did not notice any spelling or grammatical errors. Translations of Chinese captions are in white.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Audio is a choice of Mandarin Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448 Kbps or Mandarin dts 5.1 at 754 Kbps. Both were good, enveloping audio tracks. The dts sounded slightly louder and cleaner.

     Dialogue was clear and centred, the surrounds provided a nice enveloping feel with ambient effects, clashes of swords, storm noise and music. The sub woofer supported music and some effects but did not draw attention to itself.

     Lip synchronisation was occasionally slightly off.

    The score by Anthony Chue and Peter Kam was lively and supported the film well.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Making of Reign of Assassins (22:30)

     This is really four EPKs joined together, where everyone from John Woo (credited on screen as “Director in Chief”), 5 other crew and 13 of the actors get to provide a few seconds of sound bites. They say very little of interest but the behind the scenes footage of stunts and wire work is interesting to watch.

     In his review of the Blu-ray, DanielB found that the subtitles on the extra were incorrect. The good news is that on the DVD the subtitles are fine, although as they appear in a yellow font, imposed on the white Chinese subtitles, they can sometimes be hard to read.

Theatrical Trailer (1:37)

Eastern Eye Trailers

     Trailers for other films from Madman: Ip Man: The Legend is Born (2:06), Legend of the Fist: The return of Chen Zhen (1:09), Kamui (1:35) and Goemon (2:18).

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     There does not appear to be a Region 1 US release of the film on DVD at present. The Region 3 Hong Kong version has additional language options (Cantonese as well as Mandarin) but I cannot find details of any extra features. Otherwise sales sites list only the Blu-rays – which has same extras as this DVD.

Summary

     Reign of Assassins may not deliver anything new, but it is still an impressive martial arts film with good acting, a decent script and well staged action sequences. And of course the wonderful Michelle Yeoh is always worth watching.

     The video and audio are good, there is one extra of limited interest.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Friday, September 16, 2011
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S350, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 42inch Hi-Def LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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