|THE ASSASSIN (NIE
YIN NIANG) (director/writer: Hou
Hsiao-Hsien; screenwriters: T'ien-wen Chu,
Tien-Wen Chu, Cheng Ah, Hai
Meng Hsieh; cinematographer: Mark Lee Ping-Bin;
editors: Liao Ching-sung, Pauline Huang
Chih-chia; music: Lim
Giong; cast: Shu Qi (Nie
Yinniang), Chang Chen (Tian
Ji’an), Tsumabuki Satoshi (The
Mirror Polisher), Zhou Yun (Lady
Tian), Juan Ching-tian (Xia Jing), Hsieh
Hsin-ying (Huji), Sheu Fang-yi (Princess
Jiacheng / Princess-Nun Jiaxin ); Runtime: 106;
MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Hou Hsiao-Hsien;
Well Go (Central
Motion Pictures Corporation);
2015-Taiwan-Mandarin with English subtitles)
|"Offers a uniquely beautiful take
on the traditional wuxia film."
by Dennis Schwartz
talented veteran Taiwanese filmmaker Hou Hsiao-Hsien
("Three Times"/"Flowers of
Shanghai"/"The Puppetmaster") is
writer-director, who sets this mythical
confrontational martial-arts adventure story in
9th-century China and makes it into a meditation on
beauty. Hou tells it through stunning visuals and in
his usual offbeat way of storytelling. Those expecting
plenty of action might be disappointed that the
action, terrifically choreographed in spurts, takes a
back seat to the provocative narrative about finding
peace within and messaging that the most humane path
to follow is a nonviolent one. It is stylishly
executed and offers a uniquely beautiful take on the
traditional wuxia film.
esteemed director won the award for Best Director at
the recent Cannes Festival. Although a simple story,
it was somewhat hard to fully keep track of the
narrative because of all the scheming. Shu
Qi, as the assassin, offers a compelling opaque
performance, where the action figure must constantly
wrestle with her emotions to have compassion for
opens with a prologue shot in black-and-white.
An assassin,Yinniang (Shu
Qi), after 13 years in exile, has
been assigned to kill a corrupt governor (Chen
Chang) in her hometown of
Weibo. She was once betrothed to him. Yinniang
decides not to when she sees him doting on his
sleeping son and is unable to take the life of such
a loving father.
The film is then shot in color. We learn that the young hit-woman, Yinniang, with a big heart, was in her childhood abducted by a decorated general and trained by a princess-nun Jiaxin (Sheu Fang-yi) in the martial arts to assassinate corrupt officials. On her return to her Weibo island birthplace, she confronts her parents, her past and her repressed feelings.
learn of the uneasy relations between the
Imperial Court and the Weibo province. As for Yinniang,
by disobeying her kill order she has chosen to
break away from her captors.
richly textured slow-paced art film is a different
kind of martial arts film, one that can be appreciated
by the thoughtful viewer.
REVIEWED ON 11/23/2015 GRADE: A-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ