Three sworn brothers work as assassins for the Emperor of China. Their current job? Take out the former head of the court, who is plotting to overthrow the government. However, like any good assassin story, there's more to the case than there initially appears to be...
Got a sequel, The Infernal Battlefield, in 2017.
This film contains examples of:
- Action Prologue: Shen leading some assassins, including most of our main characters, in capturing one member of the Eunuch Clique.
- Big Bad: Zhou Jhingzhong has been secretly manipulating the events of the film so he can take control of the secret police.
- Blackmail: A petty criminal learns that Jin killed a man and took his identity, and demands 100 taels (5 years of an assassin's salary) to keep quiet. The criminal is a skilled enough swordsman that he can prevent a Blackmail Backfire.
- Cold-Blooded Torture: The government employs brutal torture, including eye removal, on everybody they arrest.
- Crapsack World: Ming China is portrayed as a corrupt land where bribery is mandatory to get ahead and a government-sanctioned Sex Slave operation goes unquestioned. The most herouc characters in the film are a trio of Professional Killers who gladly work for the Secret Police, their only problems with it being that there are infiltrators trying to topple their emperor.
- It should be noted that this movie is set during the reign of the last Emperor of the Ming Dynasty, just prior to being replaced by the Manchu Qing Dynasty. At this time, China was besieged from all sides, with foreign & domestic enemies running rampant.
- Disc-One Final Boss: Wei Zhongian, who has been plotting to overthrow the government throughout the film, is killed with twenty minutes left. It is then revealed that his godson, Zhou Jhingzhong, had been manipulating events to take power the whole time.
- Eunuchs Are Evil: The Heavy is a former court eunuch plotting to topple the Emperor.
- Faking the Dead: Wei has one of his servants burn himself alive to make the government think he's dead, letting him continue his schemes unabated.
- The Mole: Wei has his godson become head of the Secret Police so he can continue to manipulate them.
- Ninja: A bunch of these sent after our heroes serve as the main Mooks of the film.
- The Purge: Emperor Chongzhen orders everybody who worked for Wei assassinated to prevent him from maintaining power after his ousting.
- Sex Slave: Imperial assassins sometimes force the wives and daughters of their targets to be courtesans at the Academy's brothel.
- Team Title
- The X of Y