This week from director Hou Nsiao Hsien and Well Go USA Entertainment comes a brilliant piece of storytelling with the fate of “The Assassin.”
It is China in the 9th Century as a young girl is taken away from her father who is a general and trained in martial arts. Trained to be swift, the young girl grows into one of the lands greatest assassins.
Until she is given a task that she can not carry out. Returning to the Nun Chiang Nu (Shao-Huai Chang) who has trained her, the course takes a new turn. Now she must take out a Tian Ji’an (Chang Chen) whom she was betrothed to and is now in charge of the largest military in North China. Married to another, Yinniang watches from the shadows as he tells his wife what is happening.
Home for less than a day she has made herself known to Tian Ji’an but this is no ordinary homecoming. He knows more about what happened to Yinniang and she is holding him accountable for it all.
Yinniang (Shu Qi) must now come to terms with the story of her parents, memories of events that she never understood before and face the man she is ordered to kill.
Qi as Yinniyang gives such an amazing performance. She doesn’t speak much but instead lets others do the talking digging themselves in deeper. Observing and witnessing what has happened to the lives of those she is meant to hate – it truly is a matter of time before they destroy themselves. Wanting to carry out her family’s revenge, Qi’s character is perfectly capable of making it happen but shows such restraint and, at the same time, thrilling skill.
Chen as Tian Ji’an is a man who wants to control everything and everyone around him. That begins to unravel, just like his nerves, when Yinniang makes her presence known. He doesn’t need an explanation as to why she is there or what her intentions are. Instead, he tries to manipulate the situation. He underestimates his opponent greatly!
Other cast include: Satoshi Tsumabuki as The Mirror Polisher, Nikki Hsin-Ying Hsieh as Huji, Ethan Juan as Xia Jing, Zhen Yu Lei as Tien Xing, Fang Mei as Yinniang’s Grandmother, Dahong Ni as Nie Feng, Jacques Picoux as Lady Tian’s Teacher, Fang-yi Sheu as Princess Jiacheng, Mei Yong as Yinniang’s Mother and Yu Zhou as Lady Tian.
TUBS OF POPCORN: I give “The Assassin” four tubs of popcorn out of five. This truly is such a different film in the way in which the story is presented with cinematic beauty. There isn’t a large amount of dialogue but instead the tale is told visually and with non-verbal performances.
I adore the costuming because it adds so much. There is such elegance in the costuming that adds so much in the movement of not only the fight scenes, but the movement of the other female characters.
“The Assassin” has won for Best Director at the Cannes Film Festival and Official Selections of the Toronto International Film Festival and the New York Film Festival.
The Bluray includes bonus features with Behind the Scenes, Trailer, and English-French subtitles.
In the end — she will unravel their secrets!