This is an interesting action flick about the bodyguard of a Hong Kong Triad boss who is sent to London to protect a young woman. The explosion of violence that erupts when a rival mob boss tries to muscle in on the Hong Kong scene soon spills across borders and the quiet, professional bodyguard finds himself in the thick of it. There are elements of drama and even romance thrown into the action mix and the film features a couple of excellent familiar faces in the shape of Richard Ng and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa.
The film kicks off with an explosive attack on mob boss Wong and his bodyguard, Leung, immediately proves his worth in combat. A rival boss Kai arrives on the scene and Wong brushes him off but Kai is a determined and vicious gangster. Wong's no good son, Yuen, goes behind his back and before long a full out gang war seems to be inevitable. Wong sends his best man, Leung, to London to protect a mysterious young girl.
The resolution is predictable enough but there are several unexpected moments along the way and some nicely handled fight sequences. Leung is a one man army and he takes on all comers even if the odds are against him. As he forms a tentative romance with the woman he is supposed to protect the gang war back in Hong Kong escalates and they return to the city for an explosive finale.
The direction from Chee Keong Cheung is engaging and features some nice touches. The pacing and writing are not so successful and the film feels a bit disjointed at times. The focus jumps around between characters and it is never entirely clear who is supposed to be the hero and where our sympathies should lie.
This lack of focus is exacerbated by the laidback performance of the lead actor Vincent Sze who plays the eponymous bodyguard. He is clearly an accomplished fighter and he has a likeable quiet charm but his presence is lacking and he isn't the best choice for a leading man. Stephanie Langton plays the woman he is sent to protect and her character does not ring true. The film is carried on the shoulders of two excellent veteran actors, Richard Ng as Wong and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa as Kai.
It has been some time since I've seen Richard Ng in a film and it was a welcome surprise to find him here although he is far too likeable to be a mob boss. I had real trouble believing he would order the murder of his rival's daughter. Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa is another familiar face and he effortlessly conjures up another baddie role here although it was hard not to sympathise with him because unusually his opponent Wong is far more aggressive in the conflict. Both actors leant the film some gravity and without them it would not have worked at all well.
The fight sequences in Bodyguard: A New Beginning were quite thrilling and retained a gritty realistic feel. The set ups conformed to action cliché but the resulting violence was nonetheless enjoyable for it. There were also cameos by experienced fighters Mark Strange and Nathan Lewis as a duo of evil hitmen and their showdown with Leung was one of the high points of the film.
This is an enjoyable film and while there were a few flaws it held my interest easily. Strong performances from the veteran actors involved and some solid martial arts action make this worth a watch.