The one downside to the modern martial arts film is that it sometimes has to operate in another genre to try and work. 7 Assassins tries to find itself as a martial arts film in a western setting but winds up being just another tired, cliche-filled borefest.
Simple premise. Revolutionary Tit Wan (Felix Wong) wants to overthrow the government and is leading a wagon train filled with gold, meant to purchase advanced weapons to aid the rebellion. When they get ambushed, and the gold stolen, Wan winds up in a village filled with refugees. All of them have particularly violent skillsets, and pasts, and when the government opts to mess with them there’s only one option they have: fight back.
The problem is that there’s nothing this film does that hasn’t been done before, done better and done in a more interesting manner. This is a film that has a boring concept, of a group of badass types coming together to fight against a corrupt government, that has all the potential to be a modicum of fun and/or interesting. The concept of people who’ve sworn off violence banding together against something is a genre staple and the film takes stock characters with minimal back story and expects us to care about them enough to want to cheer for them.
Unfortunately the film’s only other calling card, potentially beautiful martial arts carnage, is nowhere to be found as there’s nothing we haven’t seen before. This is good action but there’s nothing that’s innovative, interesting or even new. This is the same old stuff we’ve seen over the years in many other films; there’s nothing new tried. It’s one thing to have the same old stock characters in a perfunctory film about badasses coming out of retirement for the greater good. It’s another to not give us any reason to care other than the bad guys are bad people.
7 Assassins is a generic martial arts film that’s worth a Redbox, $1 rental but not much more.
The film’s trailers are included, nothing more.
Lionsgate presents 7 Assassins. Directed by Hung Yan-yan. Written by Chun Tin Nam, Moon Zhang, Allun Lam, Wilson Mak. Starring Eric Tsang, Felix Wong, Gigi Leung, Ray Lui, . Run Time: 102 minutes Rated R. Released on DVD: 12.23.2014
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