The Assassins (2012) Blu-ray Review, a movie directed by Linshan Zhao (Zhao Yi Yang) and starring Chow Yun-Fat, Liu Yifei, Hiroshi Tamaki, Peng Jingci, Alec Su, Annie Yi, Qiu Xinzhi, Yao Lu, Ni Dahong, Chi Cheng, Qu Quancheng, and Bao Jianfeng.
Release Date: January 8, 2012
The Assassins is a visually stunning chamber drama from the much-chronicled Three Kingdoms period. Chow Yun Fat brings every bit of his impressive heavyweight acting skills to his role as the protagonist but those expecting more action than palace intrigue might be disappointed. There are some great fight scenes, but The Assassins is far less athletic than Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon or even House of Flying Daggers.
The subplot of the love story between the young would-be assassins Ling Ju and Mu Shun is overshadowed by Cao Cao’s struggle to fend off threats to his power. Ling Ju also serves as the narrator and Cao Cao’s mistress—a position possibly loosely rooted in historical fact—but her role could have been fleshed out further. Alec Su’s high-strung portrayal of Emperor Xian almost steals the show, but it is Chow who commands your attention every time he enters the frame.
The visual feast of the Yee Chung-Man-designed costumes keep the viewer fed for a while and the battle sequences deliver. There is one particularly breathtaking scene where the attacking army strings a net over the entire palace and bounces off of it to gain entry.
Overall, The Assassins is an entertaining period piece film in a sea of period pieces.
Run time: 106 minutes
Format: Dolby, THX, Widescreen
Language: Mandarin Chinese
Subtitles: English, Mandarin (Simplified)
Run time: 106 minutes
Rating: Not Rated
The Assassins is filmed in 1080P/MPEG-4 AVC encode with a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The high-definition transfer is visually stunning. We see every detail down to the embroidery thread on Cao Cao’s magnificent robes and the magnificent sets. There are some scenes that suffered from color grading yielding overly bluish or hazy shots. As this is a palace intrigue film, there are far more interior shots of the palace than outdoor or battle scenes; these scenes tend to be darker and softer than the others. I noted no anomalies or banding throughout the movie; this is a clean transfer.
The Assassin’s DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack is wonderfully lossless. The opening scene perhaps best demonstrates the aural magnificence: with the screen totally black, we hear various sounds that coalesce into the scurrying of ants throughout the sound-field. The ants’ movements are overlaid by the menacingly low thumping of horse hooves of a posse pursuing two runaways. The dynamic range is impressive and dialogue comes through cleanly and with good directionality.
Blu-ray Bonus Content
Behind the Scenes (480i, 13:45)
Interviews with the cast and crew, footage of the filming of some scenes, portions of some scenes that made the final cut.
Trailer (HD, 1:40)
Where you can purchase this Blu-ray