Xueqi Wang, Tony Leung Ka Fai, Jun Hu, Donnie Yen
Colour 139 mins
This film tells the heroic tale of the bodyguards who sacrificed themselves so Sun Yatsen could come to Hong Kong in 1906. He was a key figure in the overthrow of the Qing dynasty, inspired by western ideas of democracy to bring China into the 20th century. Sun Yatsen had come to Hong Kong to address fellow revolutionaries, but the Dowager Empress Cixi ordered his assassination. As the British running Hong Kong chose to keep out of a Chinese versus Chinese disagreement it was up to a motley group of locals to keep Sun alive.
The film feels authentic enough, I'm assuming Sun Yatsen did visit Hong Kong in 1906. The action scenes are rooted in reality which brings us closer to the people involved. There is a grimness and intensity here, particularly as the rickshaws roll and the assassins attack in near real-time. What's left when Sun leaves Hong Kong are questions - about the cost of revolutions, about how much each life is worth. Some like Sun see the ends justifying the means even though they speak elegantly about blood being shed. Very watchable, not the usual martial arts epic.