Main Plot Points:
- Back with his first film in 8 years, legendary Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-hsien wowed this year’s Cannes Film Festival (where he won Best Director) with his awe-inspiring The Assassin – a wondrous take on the traditional wuxia film. The story is simple, if elusive – in 9th century China, Nie Yinniang is a young woman who was abducted in childhood from a decorated general and raised by a nun who trained her in the martial arts.
- After 13 years of exile, she is returned to the land of her birth as an exceptional assassin, with orders to kill her betrothed husband-to-be. She must confront her parents, her memories, and her long-repressed feelings in a choice to sacrifice the man she loves or break forever with the sacred way of the righteous assassins. Rich with shimmering, breathing texture and punctuated by brief but unforgettable bursts of action, The Assassin is a martial arts film like none made before it.
What We Thought:
- I had heard really good things about The Assassin, unfortunately I didn’t love it. It’s good, but I wanted/expected more than good.
- It has a lot of positives. It looks great. The costuming and wardrobe are spot on. The backdrops and set design are flawless especially in the blu-ray I watched. The wire work is top notch. A really good Asian film has all those things and this has all of them as well.
- The acting is solid. You understand her character and why she does what she does (or doesn’t do in some instances). The characters all serve their purpose and the film is easy to follow along.
- Unfortunately I found it really slow though. I don’t know if I was expecting more action or fighting, but I think that’s what was missing. The fighting it did have was good, but I guess with a name like The Assassin, one expects an over the top action movie.
- If there wasn’t so much time in between action sequences I would have liked it a lot more. So much of it is good that the dragging and waiting really hurts it. I watch probably 1-2 Asian films per week so you really have to stand out to get my attention at this point, this didn’t stand out above others I’ve seen.
- The Assassin is still pretty good and worth watching if you are into Asian cinema. I’ve seen a lot of films that are similar (especially recently) so I think that drops the grade along with its pacing. Still a solid film though.
- Behind the Scenes
Notable Cast & Crew:
- Director Hou Hsiao-Hsien
- Zhou Yun
- Shu Qi
- Chang Chen
- Tsumabuki Satoshi
Recommended if You Like:
- Memories of the Sword
- The Guardsman