07th Mar2014

‘The Lady Assassin’ DVD Review

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Kim Dzung, Tang Thanh Ha, Thanh Hang, Thai-Hoa Le, Diem My, Ngoc Quyen | Written by Ngo Quan Dung | Directed by Quang Dung Nguyen


A lot of martial arts movies tell stories that follow the same revenge style tale.  You have the hero created to gain vengeance against some nemesis who has the ability to pay for plenty of other fighters to stand in their way.  Add a few story elements on top that template and with some well-choreographed fight scenes you can have a hit on your hands.  The Lady Assassin aka “My Nhan Ke” fits this scenario, but with the twist being that the heroes of this piece are some faux-prostitutes who kill the men who arrive at the Duong Son Tavern.

At the start of The Lady Assassin this is exactly what happens when a funeral procession makes its way to the tavern.  Once the men are dispatched of and the coffin opened instead of a dead body they find a woman Linh Lan (Tang Thanh) hidden, bound and gagged.  Taking her captive Kieu Thi the landlady of the tavern decides they will train her up so that she can be used to gain vengeance on the evil Quan Du, who Lan has declared as her moral enemy.  As the women prepare Lan as an assassin, everything looks to be going to plan, but is she everything she seems to be?

When it comes to movies like this I do love the movies of actors like Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan and Jet Li where talent is shown without the need of wires and CGI, but if done well I do enjoy the exaggerated style that the use of wires can bring to the fighting scenes, this is one reason I like The Lady Assassin.  There is a lot of use of wires and this tends to give a more adventurous edge to the fights on show with the fighters flying all over the fight scene.  This style is also put on show during the training scenes which made me joke to myself that this was a better version of The Next Karate Kid.  While there is no “wax on, wax off” scene the tavern cleaning scene could arguably be described as being similar.

Although the action scenes are fun and are of course the main focus of the story, I do like the fact that The Lady Assassin isn’t afraid to slow the action down for parts of the film and actually concentrate on some character development.  We get to know the ladies of Duong Son Tavern and see, where at the start they are presented as heartless prostitutes/assassins looks can actually be deceiving, especially when it comes to Kieu Thi the leader of the group.  Although she trains her group to be heartless and to know a man’s weakness she also cares for the people under her charge.  When Quan Du finally appears and brings his small army to take down the tavern, it’s also interesting that a lot of the storylines that have been set up throughout the film are closed off successfully, impressively sometimes even through sword battles with words not even being needed.

It is nice to see a film like The Lady Assassin where the women are focused on as being the strong characters and the heroes of the piece.  The character of Quan Du in some ways is over exaggerated as the misogynist women hater which can get cheesy, but I do understand the need to create him as a larger than life enemy.  The Lady Assassin may not be a classic of the genre, but the fact is it’s good at what it does and with above average fight scenes is a female orientated martial arts movie where the evil men get their asses kicked for once.

The Lady Assassin is released on DVD by Terracotta Distribution on March 10th.

Reviewed originally posted on PissedOffGeek.com

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