Intended as the concluding film in the trilogy on the modern history of Taiwan began with Beiqing Chengshi (1989), this film reveals the story through three levels: a film within a film as ... See full summary »
Lu and Feng are a devoted couple forced to separate when Lu is arrested and sent to a labor camp as a political prisoner during the Cultural Revolution. He finally returns home only to find that his beloved wife no longer recognizes him.
In 8th century China, 10-year-old general's daughter Nie Yinniang is handed over to a nun who initiates her into the martial arts, transforming her into an exceptional assassin charged with eliminating cruel and corrupt local governors. One day, having failed in a task, she is sent back by her mistress to the land of her birth, with orders to kill the man to whom she was betrothed - a cousin who now leads the largest independent military region in North China. After 13 years of exile, the young woman must confront her parents, her memories and her long-repressed feelings. A slave to the orders of her mistress, Nie Yinniang must choose: sacrifice the man she loves or break forever with the sacred way of the righteous assassins.Written by
Director Hou told the New York Times in an interview published on 10/07/2015 that he would break the fight scene into smaller parts as the actors weren't skilled fighters. He would also let the actors start fighting when they chose rather than directing them to fight. See more »
The way of the sword is pitiless. Saintly virtues play no part in it.
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In Japan, the film has been released with an additional footage contains the scene involving the Mirror Polisher (Satoshi Tsumabuki) and the wife of the Mirror Polisher (Shiori Kutsuna). This version is only available on Japanese Blu-Ray from Shochiku Home Video but without English subs. See more »
Probably the best way to watch "The Assassin" is to play it as 1.5 times the speed. On a serious note, the film takes Wuxia to an entirely different level. If Ozu had made Wuxia films then probably those films would have looked something like "The Assassin". Watching the film is like studying a life in slow motion. While the detailing is meticulous, the storytelling style can best be described as tedious. The action sequences, although beautifully choreographed, are minimalistic in style.
In her third collaboration with the master Taiwanese filmmaker Hou Hsiao-Hsien, Shu Qi delivers a mesmerizing performance while playing a part that's tender and feral in equal parts. It's difficult to detest the ferocious killer she has become. It's difficult not to fall in love with the assassin who once was a princess. It's difficult not to be in awe of Hou Hsiao-Hsien after watching the film. It's difficult to wipe off the images from one's mind long after the end credits begin to roll. It's difficult to watch it just once.
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