Action/AdventureMovie Reviews

Code of the Assassins review

Code of the Assassins sounds like it should be a crazy sleek martial arts showpiece. Instead it’s a film that’s constantly fighting against embarrassing CGI and plot that never quite settles down into a cohesive narrative.

Maybe the main culprit is director/co-screenwriter Daniel Lee seemingly more interested in making a superhero film than a martial arts film with some superhero movie elements.

As a youth, Qi Junyuan’s (Shaofeng Feng) family was cruelly massacred for a group searching for a map leading to a massive fortune. Since childhood, he’s been raised by Ghost Valley, a highly skilled clan of assassins who hide their identities behind masks and cloaks that flow like capes.

code of the assassins review - ghost valley

Qi has excelled in his training and is now among the four best thanks in part to his mechanical arm filled with unique attachments including a wire reel, throwing stars and a retractable sword. 

When Qi learns that the map has been uncovered, he sets out to find some answers on who had his family killed even if it means disobeying Ghost Valley orders. Along the way, Qi encounters Shesheng (Gina Chen Jin), a beautiful assassin working with Ghost Valley.

Despite having little reason to trust her, Qi decides to team up with Shesheng as they encounter various factions vying for the map as well as his Ghost Valley peers seeking to bring him back to the fold.

code of the assassins review - blue asura

Lee’s direction is too busy. He forces dramatics with copious amounts of slow motion, over the top bombastic music and dizzying pan and fade out transitions.

At times it feels like Lee is overcompensating for the script he co-wrote with Yuan Tai Chin and Ravine Yang and working to distract the viewer by throwing so much at them all at once. This isn’t helped by the hefty dose of flashbacks and the dizzying array of new characters constantly being introduced like boss characters in a video game. 


Most of the CGI is really bad looking cheap and hastily done. Explosions in particular look weak and ineffective. As so much of the CGI effects are done during the fight scenes it spoils some of the otherwise well staged fight choreography. There’s a healthy dose of CGI used to create the sprawling cities, which is far less offensive since they can remain static background objects. 

Qi might be the only assassin who has a weaponized prosthetic, but several assassins utilize mechanics to give them an edge in their battles.

code of the assassins review - lady hsu's army

Lee loves likes to show the intricate inner workings of these devices showing the gears and cylinder layout when they’re being loaded up as if this were the latest installment of Michael Bay’s Transformers franchise. By the half hour mark, what originally was kinda cool feels overdone.

At just under two hours the film is too long to such a scattered and disjointed story.

Code of the Assassins does everything to excess besides provide an entertaining and fun assassin adventure. 

Rating: 4 out of 10

Photo Credit: Well Go USA