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Bodyguards and Assassins

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Bodyguards and Assassins

(Shi yue wei cheng)
Sponsored by: Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office (Canada)

Canadian Premiere

  • Hong Kong / China2009
  • 139 min
  • 35mm
  • Cantonese/mandarin with English subtitles
WINNER: Best Picture, Director, Supporting Actor (Nicholas Tse), Action Choreography, Cinematography, Art Direction, Costume and Make-Up, Original Film Score, Hong Kong Film Awards 2010
WINNER: Film of Merit, Best Actor (Wang Xueqi), Hong Kong Film Critics Society Awards 2010
WINNER: Audience Award, Terracotta Far East Film Festival 2010
Official Selection, Udine Far East Film Festival 2010


Martial ArtsHistoricalDramaAction / Adventure

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“With major Asian stars appearing in virtually every significant role, the final hour is wall-to-wall action” — SCREEN DAILY

"The biggest Hong Kong event film of the last couple of years... One of the few films to live up to its hype and billing" — James Mudge, BEYOND HOLLYWOOD


Director: Teddy Chen
Screenplay: Chun Tin-Nam, James Yuen Sai-Sang, Guo Jinli, Wu Bing
Cast: Wang Xueqi, Donnie Yen, Nicholas Tse, Tony Leung Ka Fai, Fan Bingbing
Producers: Peter Chan, Huang Jianxin, Jojo Hui
Print Source: Les Films Séville / E1 / Cinema Popular



At the dawn of the 20th century, Hong Kong is a British colony and China is ruled by the haughty Qing Dynasty. A wind of defiance is blowing across the land and at the heart of it is Sun Yat-Sen, who history now remembers at the “father of the Nation,” the founder of the Chinese republic. Not all share his vision of a modern China liberated from the clutches of a decaying Imperial court and foreign interlopers. Chen Xiao-Bai, a militant revolutionary thinker, pleads with printing magnate Li Yu-Tang for support. Li is initially uninterested, and moreover discourages his son Chung-Guang from getting involved. This changes, however, when Li’s friends start turning up murdered and Chen is kidnapped by the vicious agents of the reactionary Yan Xiao-Guo. Li’s change of heart is a dramatic one, as he rallies the riffraff of Hong Kong’s alleyways and market stalls, the menial labourers, vegetable hawkers and rickshaw pullers, to take a stand and protect Sun at his most vulnerable moment. Sun’s arrival draws near and so does the clash between the regular folks of Hong Kong’s streets and the Yan’s band of murderers. The next few pages of China’s history will be written in blood.

Ten years in the making, Teddy Chen’s masterful historical fight flick BODYGUARDS AND ASSASSINS, which swept this year’s Hong Kong Film Awards, isn’t merely a dynamic blend of epic politics, weighty and exciting martial arts, set in a vividly recreated Hong Kong of a century ago. It’s also a gallery of many of China’s outstanding cinematic stars. Award-winning Wang Xueqi, who plays Li, is a familiar face to fans of admired directors Chen Kaige and Zhang Yimou; Tony Leung Ka-Fai, who plays Chen, is a fixture since sharing the screen with Chow Yun-Fat in the ’80s and early ’90s. Also on board are such hot young stars as Nicholas Tse, Fan Bingbing and pop singer Leon Lai, never to mention longstanding icons like Simon Yam, the lovable Eric Tsang and of course martial arts master Donnie Yen. The ensemble cast here delivers the goods in an adventure that builds in tension and complexity through its first half, and devotes its entire second act to a pulse-pounding extended street battle for the future of a nation!

—Rupert Bottenberg

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