ⓘ The Assassins (film)


ⓘ The Assassins (film)

The Assassins, previously known as Bronze Sparrow Terrace or Bronze Sparrow Platform, is a Chinese historical drama film directed by Zhao Linshan, starring Chow Yun-fat as Cao Cao, a prominent warlord who became the de facto head of the central government in China towards the end of the Han dynasty. The film, released in October 2012, focuses on Cao Caos life in his later years and depicts two assassination attempts on the warlord. The supporting cast includes Liu Yifei, Hiroshi Tamaki, Alec Su, Annie Yi, Qiu Xinzhi, Yao Lu and Ni Dahong. The films Chinese title is a reference to the Bronze Sparrow Platform, a terrace constructed in 210 by Cao in the ancient city of Ye.


1. Plot

The film is set in China in the late 210s – the years preceding the end of the Han dynasty. Over a period of two decades, Cao had defeated Lu Bu and other rival warlords to gain supremacy in northern and central China. In 216, he is granted the title of a vassal king, the "King of Wei", by Emperor Xian, the figurehead Han ruler controlled by him. He constructs the Bronze Sparrow Platform as a showcase of his power.

Lingju is the orphaned daughter of Lu Bu and Diaochan. She, like many other orphaned children of Cao Caos enemies, was recruited in her childhood by Cao Caos rivals to be trained as assassins to kill Cao. She meets Mu Shun, who protects her while she is in training and falls in love with him. Mu Shun is castrated and Lingju and Mu Shun eventually find their way into court life: Lingju is taken by Cao as one of his mistresses while Mu Shun becomes a palace eunuch.

There are two major attempts on Cao Caos life. The first is masterminded by Empress Fu Shou and her father Fu Wan. This plan fails and Cao has the conspirators – including the empress – executed in front of Emperor Xian. The second is a revolt led by the imperial physician Ji Ben and his supporters, but the rebellion is swiftly crushed. Cao suspects that his son, Cao Pi, is involved in the assassination plots.

Mu Shun fails in his attempt to kill Cao Cao, who reveals that he knew all along that Lingju is planning to assassinate him. Cao promises to spare Lingjus life. In return, Mu Shun disguises himself as Cao and rides out of the city, only to be mortally wounded by Lingju, who mistakes him for Cao and stabs him with her fathers weapon. Lingju then commits suicide to join Mu Shun.


2. Cast

  • Zhang Zimu as Lingju young
  • Liu Yifei as Lingju / Diaochan
  • Chow Yun-fat as Cao
  • Liu Jieyi as Mu Shun young
  • Hiroshi Tamaki as Mu Shun
  • Qu Quancheng as Cao Zhi
  • Ni Dahong as Fu Wan
  • Guo Jinfei as Chen Meng
  • Bao Jianfeng as Lu Bu
  • Chi Cheng as Xu Chu
  • Peng Jingci as Cao Xiu
  • Qiu Xinzhi as Cao Pi
  • Yao Lu as Ji Ben
  • Annie Yi as Empress Fu Shou
  • Alec Su as Emperor Xian of Han
  • Tian Ruihui as Mu Yan

3. Reception

The film premiered at the 11th Changchun Film Festival and impressed audiences with its accuracy and attention to historical details, both in terms of story and costumes.

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