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
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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