The Assassin

  • 105'
  • Taiwan
  • 2015
Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s widely praised first film in the wuxia genre is based on a 9th-century short story from the Tang dynasty about a princess from an imperial family who is kidnapped and then trained to kill corrupt politicians. When one of her assignments fails, she receives the impossible task of killing the cousin she used to love, who by now is a feared military commander.
Contemplative scenes alternate with intense, tightly choreographed sword fights, sublimely shot by cameraman Mark Lee Ping Bin. His meticulous compositions capture both the majestic natural surroundings and the elaborately decorated palatial rooms with a seldom displayed abundance of colour. Plot and drama are - contrary to wuxia custom but fitting with Hou’s own narrative tradition - but a reflection, a shimmer of the events on screen. Yet Shakespeare is never far off. The tensions between task and family, death and love, ineluctably lead to a climax.
Director
Hou Hsiao-hsien
Countries of production
Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, France
Production Year
2015
Festival Edition
IFFR 2016
Length
105'
Medium
DCP
Original title
Nie yin niang
Language
Mandarin
Producers
Hou Hsiao-hsien, Yiqi Chen, Lam Peter, Gou Tai-Chiang, Lin Kufn, Tung Tzu-Hsien
Production Companies
SpotFilms, Sil-Metropole Organisation Ltd., Media Asia Films, Central Motion Picture Corp.
Sales
Wild Bunch
Screenplay
Hou Hsiao-hsien, Chu Tien-wen, Hsieh Hai-meng, Zhong Acheng
Cinematography
Mark Lee Ping Bing
Editor
Liao Ching-sung
Production Design
Hwarng Wern-ying
Sound Design
Tu Duu-Chih
Music
Lim Giong
Cast
Shu Qi, Chang Chen
Local Distributor
Lumière