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Assassin’s Blade, The (Blu-ray Review)

18 May, 2013 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Well Go USA
$24.98 DVD, $29.98 Blu-ray
Not rated.
In Cantonese with English subtitles.
Stars Charlene Choi, Chun Wu, Ge Hu, Xin Xin Xiong, Siu-Wong Fan.

Period movies featuring martial arts and swordplay have been a Hollywood mainstay since 2000’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Thus, it makes sense the genre would eventually embrace a Romeo and Juliet-style star-crossed romance as backdrop to the action.

In The Assassin’s Blade (originally released as The Butterfly Lovers in 2008), Zhu Yanzhi (Charlene Choi, in a stretch) disguises herself as a man to learn martial arts in an elite school that typically forbids women. At the school, Yanzhi develops an adversarial-turned-secret romance with her instructor, Liang (Chun Wu), when the latter discovers her true identity.

As their relationship blossoms, Yanzhi’s parents arrange for their daughter to marry someone else — a predicament that threatens her relationship with Liang as well as his standing at school.

Oh, the melodrama — complete with soap opera musical score.

As screenplays go, Blade is unequivocally unoriginal. Thankfully, Hong Kong director Jingle Ma (House of Flying Daggers) understands elaborately choreographed fight scenes (in high-definition) and CGI special effects with aplomb. The result is a visually stimulating movie — at least when the action (not romance) heats up. Viewing tip: Turn down the volume, read the subtitles and enjoy.

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