The Assassin is directed by Hou Hsiao-Hsien who is a leading figure in world cinema and in Taiwan’s New Wave cinema movement. That is another name for Artsy Cinema. The Assassin is gorgeous to look at but it doesn’t have much substance to it. In fact it is 15 minutes of plot and 90 minutes of art cinematography. There is a lot, and I mean A LOT of people staring while standing, sitting, and walking. Out of the 15 minutes of plot there is probably only 8 minutes of dialogue.
If you like art films then by all means see it. It is very beautiful to look at and it was nominated and won all kinds of awards, however much of the film just seemed like a rotating screen saver for my computer. I will probably purchase this movie on Blu-ray so I can have it play in the background while I take a nap in my favorite chair.
Shu Qi (The Storm Riders, The Duke of Mt. Deer) as Nie Yinniang the eponymous assassin
Chang Chen (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Red Cliff, The Grandmaster) as Tian Ji’an, cousin to Nie Yinniang, formerly betrothed to her, and military governor (Jiedushi), ruling Weibo Circuit.
Zhou Yun (Warriors of Heaven and Earth, Bodyguards and Assassins) as Lady Tian, Tian Ji’an’s wife .
Satoshi Tsumabuki (Tenchijin, Dragon Head) as the mirror polisher
Ethan Juan (Wu Xia, The Guillotines) as Xia Jing , Tian Ji’an’s bodyguard
Hsieh Hsin-Ying (Tai Chi Zero) as Huji , Tian Ji’an’s concubine and a dancer
Yong Mei (Aftershock) as Nie Tian
Fang-Yi Sheu (Touch of the Light) as Princess Jiacheng and her twin sister, the princess Jiaxin turned Taoist nun
Lei Zhenyu (Empire of Silver) as Tian Xing
The Guardian review
Roger Ebert review
Love HK Film review