The Assassin is undeniably one of the most beautiful-looking films to come out all year – however fans of interesting characters, cinematic thrills and coherent narratives should look elsewhere.
A critical favourite (and award winner) at this year’s Festival de Cannes, The Assassin is glacier-slow and fails to offer a fraction of the flair or excitement of its best wuxia contemporaries.
The emotional and narrative stakes are implied constantly through the dialogue, but they are never really demonstrated as the film’s meaning remains frustratingly vague and elusive. There may be something in there for many viewers, but it’s well hidden.
The Assassin is artful, poised and refined – however for all but the most ardent wuxia admirers it offers little more than a pretty picture.
CAST: Qi Shu, Chen Chang, Nikki Hsin-Ying Hsieh, Shao-Huai Chang, Ethan Juan
DIRECTOR: Hsiao-Hsien Hou
WRITERS: Hsiao-Hsien Hou, Cheng Ah, T’ien-wen Chu, Hai-Meng Hsieh
SYNOPSIS: An assassin, Nie Yinniyang (Qi Shu), must eliminate the tyranny of those who avoid the authority of the Emperor.