A Writer's Odyssey/Assassin In Red (China 2021) - Movie Review

Reality and Fantasy worlds collide as a man looking for his daughter is tasked with killing a writer who's story is affecting a powerful business man
Director Yang Lu
Starring Lei Jiayin, Yang Mi, Hewei Yu, Dong Zijian
Alternative Names 刺杀小说家

Welcome to our short review of the Chinese sci-fi fantasy action movie A Writer's Odyssey (Assassin In Red)

What’s this movie about?

Guan Ning has spent the last 6 years searching for his kidnapped daughter. Never giving up, his quest has cost him both his high-paying job and his marriage.

One day as he corners the man responsible, he is whisked away by Tu Ling, a mysterious woman who works for a massive technology and medical corporation called Aladdin. Her boss, played by Hewei Yu, has a very important job for him.

He wants him to kill an author, a man who is currently writing a very exciting fantasy novel about a young man named Kongwen who is trying to kill a god called Redmane.

The reason he wants him dead? Everytime the author writes a passage in his novel where Redmane is injured, he feels the same pain in real life. Fearing that the author’s plan to kill Redmane will also result in his death, he plans to stop that before it happens, and Guan Ning is the perfect man to do it.

Is it Worth Watching?

I couldn’t help but be awed in the cinema while watching this movie. The visual effects are top-notch, certainly the best you’ve ever seen from China, which admittedly isn’t a very long list of movies that only really includes The Wandering Earth and Skyfire.

Not having the ability to watch it in IMAX loses some of the impact of the IMAX specific scenes, which are obvious even on a normal screen when the film’s matting disappears and a full-frame image is presented.

The colours really pop, with red being a particularly vivid standout.

The colour red is the theme of the movie, with Redmane’s crimson soldiers being of particular note, but also the quite liberal display of blood. This is a pretty violent movie, and it did come with a strong 15+ rating here in Australia.

Character wise, the movie strikes the right balance between over-powered and under-represented. We get the author, and the two main characters in the fantasy world, Kongwen and the young girl Tangerine, comprising of the weaker characters, while Guan Ning, Tu Ling and Black Talking Armour being the strong ones. The balance works well.

Speaking of the Black Talking Armour, what a fantastically original character. This talking eyeball acts as Kongwen’s armour, and the relationship building between the two of them was one of my favourite parts of the film. The only disappointing bit was the lack of backstory about who the Armour was and what its purpose and goals were.

There’s also a very interesting piece of dialogue around the start of the film that refers to how corporates use people’s data to spy on them. In this current political climate, and especially seeing as this movie is from China, I thought this was a rather brave piece of dialogue in the film.

The first Chinese New Year movie of 2021 gets a thumbs up, I’m looking forward to checking out the rest of them shortly.