Right, let me first prefix this by saying that I am and always will be a big fan of Sammo Hung.
But I’m also a fan of quality movies and If I come across a movie that really leaves a bad taste in the mouth then there is no way I can sugar-coat how bad it is ! ( I did the same with Jackie Chan’s incredibly poor ‘Chinese Zodiac’ ) , and let me tell you this My Beloved Bodyguard is bad. !
My Beloved Bodyguard aka ‘The Bodyguard’ is the latest film from one of the most pivotal figures in Martial Arts / Action Cinema.
The film features an all star cast including Andy Lau ( Infernal Affairs, House of Flying Daggers , Shaolin ) , Eddie Peng (Rise of the Legend ), Tsui Hark , Jun Hu ( Let The Bullets Fly , Red Cliff ) and even a small cameo from Yuen Biao and Wah Yuen.
A retired bodyguard (Sammo Hung) settles down in a small town on the Russia-China border. He befriends a young girl whose life is threatened when her father (Andy Lau) falls in with the local crime world. When the girl and her father disappear, the bodyguard sets out on a ruthless trail to take down the mob and rescue the girl.
Sammo Hung Directing Again, The First Time In Almost 20 Years
My Beloved Bodyguard marks the first time in almost 20 years that Sammo is in the directors chair (the last films directed by Sammo were Once Upon a Time in China and America starring Jet Li and Mr Nice Guy with Jackie Chan way back in 1997 ).
Remember; Sammo’s directing catalogue is almost as impressive as his martial arts skills with classics such as ‘Dragons Forever, Eastern Condors, Wheels on Meals, Prodigal Son, Encounters of the Spooky Kind , and The Evil Cult all under his belt ).
So let’s quickly recap . . . we have a fantastic cast, a interesting plot , and Sammo Hung ( known for making some of the best and most entertaining action films of all time ) back in directing.. what could go wrong ?
In fact given all the above we went as far as calling My Beloved Bodyguard one of our most anticipated films of 2016 so when it finally got round to watching it I really couldn’t contain my excitement.
As far as I was concerned, this was going to be pure action cinema gold.
What’s Gone Wrong ?
20 minutes into the film and I’m already looking at my watch. A film which initially had filed me with so much excitement had somehow managed to control the time around me. Those first 20 minutes felt like hours!
It felt like I was waiting for something that I knew was never going to happen yet stubbornly I continued to wait … just in case…
And what was I waiting for ? ‘ THE ACTION ‘ !
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m all for story , In fact, these days I value story just as much as action in the context of generic ‘action’ films. But in the same way that you expect great moments when watching a Jackie Chan film, or amazing acrobatic action when watching Yuen Biao , I was sitting waiting for that great action set piece and it was looking like it would never come.
See, I can ignore the waiting if the time in between was remotely interesting, yet somehow the dialogue and general story leading up to the action felt completely disconnected.
Andy Lau.. surely we will get some great moments from him , but sadly even Mr Lau seemed bored . (Maybe he was more focused on writing the theme song for the film than actually starring in it! ).
I rate Sammo Hung second only to Lau Kar Leung in terms of Action Choreography, Sammo even recently ( 2013) won best action choreography for Tai Chi 0 (a thoughly entertaining movie ), so there really was no signs that he was showing his age when it comes to screen craft so why would I expect any less from this …
Lights , Cameras…. Action ??
20 minutes before the end of the movie we finally have it… What we (well at least me ) have been waiting for, the all important final showdown..
Popcorn at the ready ! Its Sammo Hung Action Time with special guest… slow mo rubbish bone breaking effects and sounds ! — YEAHHH
Seriously , more time was spent on the slow mo close ups of bone breaking moves than actually choreographing the fights! After the 3rd close up I had enough. The big fight scene I had been waiting for was not even worth the time…
Everything Felt Pointless
Andy Lau who is usually fantastic , added absolutely nothing to this film – his role really could have been played by anyone . It kinda felt like Andy was in the film as little more than a favour to Sammo.
Yuen Biao is in this film ! But it’s pointless. Yes I know it’s a cameo but there is such a thing as exciting cameos?? (Especially when its Sammo and Yuen Biao getting back together again !)
Sammo Hung Fans.. Do yourself a favour . Avoid this film ( why not check out Rise of Legend instead ) .
This film adds nothing to the already legendary movie career of Sammo. I have to be painfully honest and say that I really can not recommend this film .
I’m still a huge Sammo Hung film and still look forward to his next outing (if only to counter the mistakes of this ) , but this for me ranks as the most disappointing film of the year so far.
But we still love you Sammo !