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The Bodyguard
(aka My Beloved Bodyguard)
2016; directed by Sammo Hung

Though he has been keeping busy by working as an actor, producer, and action co-ordinator, The Bodyguard marks the first time the legendary Sammo Hung has stepped into the director's chair since 1997's Once Upon a Time in China and America, so this release has been hotly anticipated by many martial arts fans. Disappointingly, the end results mark more of a small nondescript blip on Hung's filmography rather than a return to greatness.

The Bodyguard

The story and tone of the film somewhat echo one of Hung's previous releases, 1985's Heart of Dragon, where Jackie Chan played a cop taking care of his mentally challenged brother (played by Hung) who gets mixed up with a gang looking for stolen goods. Here, Hung plays Ding, a retired soldier who is succumbing to dementia. He becomes friends with a little girl, Cherry (Jacqueline Chan), after she begins to take refuge at his house to get away from her deadbeat father, Li (Andy Lau). After Li is killed by a gang looking for a bag of jewels he stole, Ding becomes Cherry's (wait for it...) bodyguard.

The Bodyguard

While there is nothing wrong with a bit of drama in martial arts films, to call The Bodyguard part of the genre is a bit of a stretch, since there is really only one fight scene in the entire film. It is good -- though some may not enjoy an oldschool guy like Sammo Hung employing camera tricks like Ashes of Time style stop printing or Street Fighter-esque x-ray shots of broken bones -- but not really of a high enough caliber to justify sitting through what is really, for the most part, unremarkable exposition. Those expecting anything from the other stars in the cast, such as Yuen Biao, Karl Maka, and Tsui Hark, will not get much in return, as their parts amount to nothing more than extended cameos.

The Bodyguard

Even though the film is in Cantonese and has several Hong Kong stars in it, for all intents and purposes, this is a Mainland release, not just from the setting in a city on the Chinese/Russian border, but down to there being no degrees of subtlety in the characterization -- it's all black or white -- and the bad guys all being busted in an awkwardly placed epilogue blatantly spliced in to appease Mainland censors. There is also the idea planted that the Chinese villains were motivated by Russians rather than their own latent criminal tendencies, something which would be laughable, if the time spent on it didn't further dissuade the audience into thinking that there might still be a glimmer of hope of seeing anythign close to the classic Hong Kong action films of yore, which seems to be becoming more and more of an impossible dream than an attainable reality in the modern world of Chinese-language film-making.


This movie has been released uncut and in the original Cantonese language with English subtitles in North America by Well Go USA. It is available on VOD, DVD, and Blu-ray from Amazon. Extras on the disc-based versions include a behind the scenes featurette and trailers for the movie and other Well Go releases.

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