ASIAN FILM - Review
15:00 - 1st May 2016, by David West

Sword Of The Assassin

Sword Of The Assassin has been billed as Vietnam’s first entry in the wuxia genre – or kiem hiep in Vietnamese – and Victor Vu’s tale ticks all the right boxes for a swordplay film. There’s the orphaned hero, Nguyen Vu (Huynh Dong), trained in martial arts by a monk. When adulthood arrives, Vu learns that his family was executed as part of a conspiracy surrounding the death of the last king. The finger of guilt points to the beautiful but ruthless Thai Hau (Van Trang) who now rules the land. Vu sets out for vengeance, teaming up with two sisters, Hao Xuan (Midu) and Hao Ha (Kim Hien) who have their own reasons for seeking Thai Hau’s head.

The script is full of wuxia staples – a martial arts technique to master, a document that everyone is searching for (in this case a letter containing the truth about the king’s death), and regular doses of gravity-defying action. Fight choreographer Johnny Nguyen does a terrific job. The swordplay scenes blend wirework and martial arts, elegantly presented with none of the frantic editing that spoils so many action movies. There’s some slightly creaky CGI early on, but that’s quickly left behind. There’s flirting and banter between Xuan and Vu to add a hint of romance, and director Victor Vu keeps the tone light with none of the ponderous pretensions of Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s snoozefest The Assassin.

It’s formulaic, but Sword Of The Assassin is eager to please and will do Vietnam proud.
SCORE: 3.5/5
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