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
"The Assassin" wants to be a crossover of Chinese wuxia flicks and art-house cinema. Unfortunately, it shows neither great fights, nor deep emotions. The story of the movie is fairly standard: A female assassin is assigned to kill her former lover. That way she is supposed to prove that she is cold-hearted enough for her duties. Fair enough, this might be interesting. But the director Hsiao-Hsien Hou feels the need to cloud "The Assassin" with subplots that are unnecessary at best and bloody confusing at worst. Half the time I was wondering: "Who is this? Where are they going? Why? Whyyy?"
Now to be confusing is one thing. Some of my favourite films are downright incomprehensible. But you've got to give your audience a reason to stick around, to solve the cinematic puzzle. But Hou gives us nothing. The characters are flat and the emotions are hollow. The fights are meaningless as well, because you can't identify with the characters. Sure, some of the landscapes look fantastic; and there's a pretty cool scene involving veils in front of the camera. Other than that, this movie left me gravely disappointed. Trust me, you'll be better off watching Ang Lee's "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" for the tenth time.
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