The Assassin

Nie yin niang

Hou Hsiao-hsien

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.

More information

Filmmaker
Hou Hsiao-hsien
Country
Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, France
Year
2015
Medium
DCP
Length
105’
Language
Mandarin
Producer
Hou Hsiao-hsien, Yiqi Chen, Lam Peter, Gou Tai-Chiang, Lin Kufn, Tung Tzu-Hsien
Production Company
SpotFilms, Sil-Metropole Organisation Ltd., Media Asia Films, Central Motion Picture Corp.
Sales
Wild Bunch
Writer
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