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Film / Six Assassins

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Six Assassins is a 1971 Shaw Brothers Wuxia martial arts movie loosely based on the tale of the 47 Ronin, and taking inspiration from Seven Samurai.

Set in the 16th century Ming dynasty China, Lord Zheng Guo Li Ming is a feudal lord and tyrant, whose thirst for power and control over his ruling territories has made life a living hell for innocent peasants in the outskirts of the city. The Emperor is helpless to put a stop to Lord Zheng's tyranny due to Lord Zheng being his brother; but a lawful swordsman named Mu Jun-Jie (Ling Yun), who poses as captain of Lord Zheng's guards, is determined to put a stop to Lord Zheng's reign.

Arresting a band of elite warriors who attempted to assassinate Lord Zheng, Mu Jun-jie decide to make the warriors his allies; the six of them now face a common goal, to rid the land of the tyrant, once and for all.

Six Assassins contains examples of:

  • Action Girl: Sun Mei-Zhen, played by Lily Li.
  • Badass Crew: The six titular heroes can take down armies of cutthroats in massive fight scenes.
  • Battle in the Rain: The film's big finale, in which Mu Jun-jie leads the assassins to battle Lord Zheng and his army in the rain outside a derelict temple. In a rather deliberate homage to Seven Samurai.
  • Big Bad: Lord Zheng, a power-hungry warlord who earned his rank due to being the Emperor's brother and rules an entire city-state as a governor and tyrant.
  • Big Badass Battle Sequence: the film's finale, in which all six of the assassins take on Lord Zheng and his entire legion of 100-odd soldiers.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: An unfortunate rebel captured alive by Lord Zheng is subjected to having his limbs pulled apart on a stretching rack while being interrogated, and also given A Taste of the Lash simultaneously.
  • Dead Guy on Display: Tang Shu-hui, executed offscreen and nailed to a wall by Lord Zheng's soldiers, for Fu Cheng to find.
  • Deadly Disc: Tang Ji, one of the assassins, uses a pair of razor-sharp discs as his weapon.
  • Death Faked for You: After their initial failed assassination leads to five of the six assassins being arrested by Mu Jun-jie, he then reveals his intention to help them in their cause to take down Lord Zheng, and that he had sentenced five unnamed prisoners to deaths by decapitation, claiming that those were the five assassins.
  • Disposable Woman: Tang Shu-hui's biggest role in the film is to be executed under Lord Zheng's orders, so as to motivate Fu Cheng to join the assassins for the finale.
  • Foreign Remake: A very loose adaptation of The 47 Ronin, but with the 47 compressed to the six eponymous assassins. It's also a remake of sorts to Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai.
  • High-Pressure Blood: Used constantly during the fight scenes whenever mooks are slain onscreen. But also overlaps with a Censored Child Death in the opening, where the farmer's young daughter was just cut down offscreen, the only indication of her death being a geyser of blood.
  • In a Single Bound: Being a wuxia, all the six can do this. But so can the main villain, Lord Zheng, who leaps ten meters vertically to a ceiling almost effortlessly to avoid a disc flung at his direction.
  • The Magnificent Seven Samurai: Now in Wuxia style!
  • Redshirt Army: The white-clad La Résistance members opposing Lord Zheng don't stand a chance in the fight scenes, getting killed off with ease each time.
  • R-Rated Opening: The movie's opening has Lord Zheng and his army of cutthroats terrorizing a farmer's land, and killing the farmer's family when they tried begging for their lives.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Sun Mei-Zhen is the sole female member of the six.
  • Throw Down the Bomblet: The assassins manage to ambush Lord Zheng's legion during the finale using flung dynamites, effectively thinning their ranks within seconds.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: In the final battle, Mu Jun-jie mortally injures Lord Zheng by throwing his sword, missing by an inch and having it flying for a dozen meters before it bounces off a bamboo tree and skewers Lord Zheng In the Back.
  • Wuxia