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The Assassins (2012) (DVD) (US Version) DVD Region 1

Chow Yun Fat (Actor) | Crystal Liu (Actor) | Alec Su (Actor) | Tamaki Hiroshi (Actor)
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The Assassins (2012) (DVD) (US Version)
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YesAsia Editorial Description

Spanning decades and hundreds of characters, the Three Kingdoms era is rich with great tales that have enthralled us for centuries. Cao Cao, one of the era's most controversial and morally ambiguous characters, gets the spotlight in The Assassins, the directorial debut of advertising director Zhao Lin Shan. The period drama takes place in a later phase of the infamous chancellor's life, now a feared ruler facing enemies from all sides. Zhao's gripping vision for the well-known tale is brought to life by Academy Award-nominated cinematographer Zhao Xiao Ding, who has worked as Zhang Yimou's cinematographer since House of Flying Daggers.

In addition to Hong Kong cinema legend Chow Yun Fat starring as the commanding leader, The Assassins features a star-studded cast that includes Crystal Liu (The Four), Tamaki Hiroshi (Nodame Cantabile), Alec Su (The Message), Ni Dahong (A Simple Noodle Story and Annie Yi (My Kingdom).

During the Eastern Han Dynasty, Chancellor Cao Cao (Chow Yun Fat) has become the de facto ruler of the nation under puppet emperor Xian (Alec Su). After the death of Guan Yu, Cao Cao appears in court, presenting a perfect opportunity for an assassination attempt. However, the attempt fails despite the many parties looking to take Cao's life, from Xian's wife Fu Shou (Annie Yi) to Lingju (Crystal Liu), an assassin posing as Cao's concubine. After eliminating the obvious suspects, Cao Cao plans to turn the tables on the assassins, even as Lingju begins to develop feelings for Cao Cao.

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Technical Information

Product Title: The Assassins (2012) (DVD) (US Version) 銅雀台 (2012) (DVD) (美國版) 铜雀台 (2012) (DVD) (美国版) 銅雀台 (2012) (DVD) (US版) The Assassins (2012) (DVD) (US Version)
Artist Name(s): Chow Yun Fat (Actor) | Crystal Liu (Actor) | Alec Su (Actor) | Tamaki Hiroshi (Actor) | Annie Yi (Actor) | Law Ka Ying (Actor) | Roy Cheung (Actor) | Tong Chun Chung (Actor) | Qiu Xin Zhi (Actor) | Nie Yuan (Actor) | Yao Lu (Actor) | Ni Da Hong (Actor) | Wu Ru Jun (Actor) 周潤發 (Actor) | 劉亦菲 (Actor) | 蘇有朋 (Actor) | 玉木宏 (Actor) | 伊能靜 (Actor) | 羅家英 (Actor) | 張耀揚 (Actor) | 湯鎮宗 (Actor) | 邱心志 (Actor) | 聶遠 (Actor) | 姚櫓 (Actor) | 倪 大紅 (Actor) | 吳 汝俊 (Actor) 周润发 (Actor) | 刘亦菲 (Actor) | 苏有朋 (Actor) | 玉木宏 (Actor) | 伊能静 (Actor) | 罗家英 (Actor) | 张耀扬 (Actor) | 汤镇宗 (Actor) | 邱心志 (Actor) | 聂远 (Actor) | 姚橹 (Actor) | 倪 大红 (Actor) | 吴 汝俊 (Actor) 周潤發 (チョウ・ユンファ) (Actor) | 劉亦菲(リウ・イーフェイ) (Actor) | 蘇有朋(アレック・スー) (Actor) | 玉木宏 (Actor) | 伊能静 (Actor) | 羅家英(ロー・ガーイン) (Actor) | 張耀揚(ロイ・チョン) (Actor) | 湯鎮宗(トン・チェンチョン) (Actor) | 邱心志(チウ・シンチー) (Actor) | 聶遠(ニエ・ユエン) (Actor) | Yao Lu (Actor) | 倪大紅(ニー・ダーホン) (Actor) | Wu Ru Jun (Actor) 주윤발 (Actor) | Crystal Liu (Actor) | Alec Su (Actor) | 타마키 히로시 (Actor) | Annie Yi (Actor) | Law Ka Ying (Actor) | Roy Cheung (Actor) | Tong Chun Chung (Actor) | Qiu Xin Zhi (Actor) | 섭원 (Actor) | Yao Lu (Actor) | Ni Da Hong (Actor) | Wu Ru Jun (Actor)
Director: Zhao Lin Shan 趙 林山 赵 林山 趙林山(チャオ・リンシャン) Zhao Lin Shan
Release Date: 2013-01-08
UPC Code: 812491013595
Language: English, Mandarin
Subtitles: English
Country of Origin: China
Picture Format: NTSC What is it?
Aspect Ratio: Widescreen
Sound Information: Dolby Digital
Disc Format(s): DVD
Region Code: 1 - USA, Canada, U.S. Territories What is it?
Duration: 106 (mins)
Publisher: Well Go USA, Inc.
Package Weight: 100 (g)
Shipment Unit: 1 What is it?
YesAsia Catalog No.: 1032147269

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YumCha! Asian Entertainment Reviews and Features

Professional Review of "The Assassins (2012) (DVD) (US Version)"

January 22, 2013

This professional review refers to The Assassins (2012) (DVD) (Hong Kong Version)
For viewers still smarting at Chow Yun Fat having dropped out of John Woo's epic Red Cliff comes The Assassins finally offering fans the chance to see the actor playing legendary Three Kingdoms personage Cao Cao. Marking the debut of former advertising director Zhao Lin Shan, the film also boasts the visual talents of Zhao Xiao Ding, a regular collaborator of Zhang Yimou who was nominated for an Oscar for his stunning work on House of Flying Daggers. In addition to Chow Yun Fat, the film features an impressive cast that also includes Crystal Liu (The Four), Alec Su (The Message), Ni Dahong (A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop), Annie Yi (My Kingdom) and Japanese actor Tamaki Hiroshi (Nodame Cantabile) as the various other players in the complex plot.

The film is set some time after the events of Red Cliff during the Eastern Han Dynasty, with Cao Cao (Chow Yun Fat) now the all-powerful Chancellor and effective ruler of the land, controlling the weak willed puppet emperor Xian (Alec Su). Using an ancient prophecy as an excuse, his enemies at court persuade the emperor that Cao Cao is certain to rebel and claim the throne for himself, leading to an assassination attempt. Unbeknownst to him however, danger also lurks even closer to home, his concubine Ling Ju (Crystal Liu) and servant Mu Shun (Tamaki Hiroshi) being part of a shadowy cult of assassins raised from children to plan his death. With matters further complicated by his scheming son Cao Pi (Qiu Xin Zhi) having an affair with the empress Fu Shou (Annie Yi), the much feared Chancellor starts taking steps to protect himself against his many foes.

Cao Cao is a fascinating figure with a rich and incredibly eventful life, who is open to multiple interpretations and who has featured in a great many films, either as a villain or more ambiguous figure - so, naturally the question here is to what The Assassins has to add to the mix. It's first certainly worth saying that viewers expecting another Red Cliff are likely to be disappointed, as while it's a lavish, good looking affair, Zhao Lin Shan generally steers away from bombast and melodramatic spectacle, the film featuring only a handful of duels and battle scenes and instead focusing on politics, plotting and philosophising. This isn't a bad thing by any means, as The Assassins is a well-written and nicely pulled together piece of character drama and palace intrigue, with plenty going on and lots of different factions trying to bring about Cao Cao's downfall. The tension builds effectively throughout, with a few clever twists here and there, and there's a general feeling of substance and gravity lacking in many other recent Chinese period epics. This lifts the film up a few notches, and though scarcely original, there's at least meat on its bones.

Unsurprisingly, The Assassins is absolutely Chow Yun Fat's film, completely revolving around him and with the actor appearing in and dominating pretty much every scene - even when he's not on screen, rarely does a moment pass without characters talking about him. Thankfully, Chow attacks the role with a relish and commitment he hasn't shown in a while, and delivers one of his career best performances, convincing and gripping in the role, and adding layers of depth and humanity, showing just the right balance of steely ruthlessness, menace, angst and vulnerability. Successfully portraying Cao Cao as a magnetic though flawed and not necessarily likeable man with an incredible weight on his shoulders, his stunning turn is easily worth the price admission alone.

This is just as well, as inevitably the film is considerably weaker when it does stray from Cao Cao, the rest of the cast paling in his shadow and failing to arouse too much interest. Ling Ju's narration, though initially fine as a basic cypher for the viewer, becomes a bit unnecessary, mainly since there really isn't much to her or much of a push from the script to turn her into anything more than a vague romantic distraction as she half-heartedly falls for him. Though both Crystal Liu and Tamaki Hiroshi are fine, their pairing similarly never rings true, and the whole thwarted lovers tragedy is strangely left undeveloped. This is true of several other of the films side relationships, and aside from the reasonably engaging thread involving Cao Pi and his relationship with his father, there's nothing too worthy of note, leaving things a bit cold at times.

Still, this doesn't matter too much in the face of Chow Yun Fat's majestic central turn and the strength of the script, and The Assassins is definitely one of the better recent Chinese historical epics. Making up for in drama and general Cao Cao related intrigue what it might lack in action, fans of Three Kingdoms fare or the central star certainly shouldn't be disappointed.

by James Mudge -

This original content has been created by or licensed to, and cannot be copied or republished in any medium without the express written permission of

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