Sunday, January 2nd, 2011
This is the coolest I’ve ever been!
Is Bodyguards and Assassins a great film? The folks who voted for Best Picture at the 29th Annual Hong Kong Film Awards seemed to think so, awarding Teddy Chan’s flick not only the top prize, but a slew of other trophies including Best Director and Best Supporting Actor, among others. Despite receiving some notice from the Hong Kong Film Critics Society and the Golden Horse Awards, the voters for these respective entities had other ideas about who deserved Best Picture, as did the folks at the LoveHKFilm.com Awards, who didn’t even nominate Bodyguards and Assassins in its top choices. Although I haven’t seen every film of 2009, I think I understand the omission.
In terms of pure filmmaking craft, Bodyguards and Assassins ranks as an impressive feat, overcoming a decade-long, intensely troubled production to deliver a top quality product, full of drama, political intrigue, action, and some top-tier actors to boot. But is Bodyguards and Assassins a “great film”? I don’t think so. The film spends a lot of time with its multiple protagonists, attempting to get us involved in their various subplots and sympathize with their individual plights. It works — to a degree — but the sheer number of characters that make up this ragtag group of misfits is so overwhelming that it’s hard to feel anything for them beyond a superficial level — that is, save Nicholas Tse’s excellent turn as a simpleminded rickshaw driver. Plenty of films ask you to care about multiple characters — The Lord of the Rings trilogy, for instance — but I think Bodyguards and Assassins only gives you the bare minimum to become invested in these characters. For some, it will be more than enough. For me, it was only adequate.