The Lady Assassin ("My Nhan Ke")
In the middle of the Vietnamese countryside stands Duong Son Quan, an isolated tavern patronized by travellers looking for a good time before reaching the city. Managed by an incredibly beautiful young woman, the equally stunning serving staff are not what they appear to be. Concealed behind their alluring curves are merciless assassins that target crooked businessmen and dirty government officials. At the end of a day’s work, they discover a young lady tied and bound in the trunk of the car of one of their clients. This orphan child lives but for one thing: avenging her family’s death at the hands of the tyrannical general who rules over the region. It doesn’t take much more to convince the girls to make her one of their own and train her as a stone-cold assassin capable of taking down her family’s executioner.
Vietnamese cinema is on a sharp rise. Several of its productions have been presented at Fantasia in the past few years, such as THE REBEL in 2008 and last year’s BLOOD LETTER. Like its predecessors, THE LADY ASSASSIN delivers spectacular martial-arts sequences that are as beautifully choreographed as they are brilliantly executed. For this one, Quang Dzung Nguyen kept things simple, relegating most of the film’s action to one location — but what a location! We are privy to all the beauty that Vietnam has to offer, from its breathtaking scenery to its jaw-dropping women. Never taking himself too seriously, Nguyen has produced an impressive piece of historical fantasy that overflows with intrigue and fight scenes that can stand proudly alongside those of the nation’s Asian neighbors. THE LADY ASSASSIN’s success largely rests on its group of ultra-seductive females, among whom can notably be found the extremely talented young actress Tang Thanh Ha. The high production values, amazing fights, over-the-top characters and awkward humour of this entertaining piece of celluloid recall the golden years of Hong Kong cinema.
— Éric S. Boisvert