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Movie: Reign of Assassins (剑雨) (2010)

Reign of Assassins (剑雨) (2010) is an epic wuxia movie set in ancient China. Co-directed by John Woo of Face/Off and Red Cliff I and II, this movie combines A-list actors and actresses from Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, and South Korea.

Synopsis: Many powerful ministers and different sects of assassins are eliminating one another in order to seize the ancient remains of Bodhi, an ancient Buddhist monk, which was said to hold an ancient power-wielding secret.

Note: Photos below are modified from here and here.

The Dark Stone Gang, led by a raspy-voiced, masked guy called Wheel King (Wang Xueqi 王学圻) is the deadliest among all. His ruthless gang members include Lei Bin (Shawn Yue 余文乐), Magician (Leon Dai 戴立忍), and Ye Zhan-qing (Barbie Hsu 徐熙媛). Ye Zhan-qing replaces Drizzle (Kelly Lin 林熙蕾), the most skillful member of the squad.

Drizzle has had enough of her murderous life and decides to change her physical appearance into someone else, thus emerging as Zeng Jing (Michelle Yeoh 杨紫琼). As a normal person, she falls in love with and marries Jiang A-sheng (Jung Woo-sung 郑雨盛).

Here are a few points to summarize the strength of this excellent modern-day wuxia classic (based on a review):

1) Character development: The first hour of the movie sets up the romance between Zeng Jing and Jiang A-sheng -- their courtship unfolding with a gentle touch of humor until the day they are married. Then, by building on this engaging first hour, the storyline becomes more and more absorbing and ends with a touching emotional finish that reaffirms the power of love to overcome hatred, vengeance and self-sacrifice.

2) Superb action choreography topped with fantasy elements: Graceful wired swordplay, bending swords, and flying needles in slo-mo are among the actions.

3) Perfect casting: Michelle Yeoh's natural beauty and elegance complements Zeng Jing's graceful assassin perfectly and serves as a good foil against co-star Jung Woo-sung's rugged handsomeness. Yeoh and Jung also share great chemistry, and it's firmly to their credit that the film ends on a deeply poignant note.

Highly recommended!

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