The Assassin: A Wushu Drama

The Assassin

Taiwan-China-Hong Kong co-production

Sweeping 8 honors at the 10th Asian Film Awards + Best Director Cannes + Best Film at Taiwan Golden Horse Awards

Directed by Hou Hsiao-Hsien

“The way of the sword is without compassion”.

With a title like The Assassin – it is hard to believe a film can be so beautiful.

Extremely beautiful.

This film is an art piece.

The colors, sharpness and clarity in the scenery were splendid.

Outstanding gorgeous costumes – I wanted to touch the textiles.

Beautiful wall hangings.

Mirrors, dressing tables, hair ornaments.

Palace intrigue.

Candles are flickering in many scenes day or night – it gave such a quality to the ambiance.

Soft focus used and sometimes with filming through semi-transparent cloth.

Landscapes, wind, smoke, and fog.

The music adding another layer to the story.

Slow pace.  Fine for me but others may take issue.

Very few actual martial arts situations.  The wushu scenes in this film are masterful and done in short bursts.

The setting is 9th century China. This film is based on a classic novella by Pei Xing. Our heroine played by Shu Qi has been taken away from her family by a mysterious Daoist nun who trains her into a skilled assassin. She is sent back to her home province with the mission of killing a lord, Chang Chen who is her cousin and was formerly promised to her in marriage.

No spoilers here.  And I don’t do lengthy plot break-downs in my film reviews.

The Assassin is wonderfully photographed by cinematographer Ping Bin Lee who also did “In the Mood for Love” by Wong Kar-wai in 2000. Another visual delight.

If you are new to Shu Qi or Chang Chen – look up their filmography – each has a long list of movies. Or message me and I will send you a list of my favorite films of these actors.

If you love Chinese poetry and paintings, you will resonate to this film – just as I have.

Go and view The Assassin – inhale the cinematography – a moving painting.