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In Shanghai in the 1880s there are four elegant brothels (flower houses): each has an auntie (called madam), a courtesan in her prime, older servants, and maturing girls in training. The ... See full summary »
Tony Chiu Wai Leung,
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8th century China. 10-year-old general's daughter Nie Yinniang is abducted by 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 promised - a cousin who now leads the largest 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
if you're only interested in fighting and killing, this might not be the film for you
I'm surprised by the bad reviews on IMDb. I think the problem is that a film titled "The Assassin" happens to attract a certain type of audience--people who are only interested in martial arts flicks, or who walk in expecting an action-packed adrenaline ride. You might be disappointed in this film, but I don't think this movie was meant for you.
A previous review mentioned the "depressed, stilted tones" of the actors.
I don't know what you were expecting ... an assassin during the Tang Dynasty to burst out into song about her inner anguish and emotional turmoil? I watched an interview with Hou Hsiao-hsien, the director who won the prestigious Best Director award at Cannes for this very film. He used a tennis analogy to explain it perfectly, so I'm just going to paraphrase below:
"If you watch the tennis greats like Federer or Nadal battling it out, there's not much expression on their faces. The speed that they're going at, the power in each exchange, there's no room for emotions."
The director, Hou, actually instructed Shu Qi (The Assassin) to tone down her expressions. The crew filmed the fight sequences again, and again, and again, until the actors were all bruised up and the fight flowed naturally, by instinct. By this point, there was really no need for dialogue or excessive expressions.
If you're an assassin fighting for your life, kill or be killed, are you really going to be thinking "let me get my blue steel pout ready for the camera"?
If you can get over the need for overly dramatic expositions and go into a film knowing the main character only has approximately nine spoken lines, and if you can enjoy a film for how starkly beautiful it is.... this might be the film for you.
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