The Assassin (2015)

Original Title

刺客聶隱娘 Cìkè Niè Yǐnniáng


Action, Drama


Hou Hsiao-hsien


Taiwan, China, Hong Kong


Shu Qi, Chang Chen, Zouu Yun, Satoshi Tsumabuki, Ethan Juan, Hsieh Hsin-Ying, Ni Dahong, Yong Mei, Fang-Yi Sheu, Lei Zhenyu, Jacques Picoux


In the 8th century China, a female assassin (Shu Qi) is tasked with the dangerous mission to kill the leader (Chang Chen) of the largest independent military region in North China.


If you are a regular reader of mine, you know that I don't have problems enjoying slow movies. That said, that's one of the problems I had with The Assassin because the pace is so slow it came across as a boring film.

And that did really bother me because unlike other slow and boring movies, Hou's actually had a story to tell. A story with a lot of potential. It could have been intriguing, engaging and it could have had some genuine drama. Instead, it was dragged and almost impossible to follow because of all those jumps. It could have been - and should have been - about people, but it actually was about politics, and the film just didn't provide enough (Chinese) background to understand it.

Now from a movie called The Assassin, one would expect plenty of action, right? Well, that was not my case, and it wasn't the film's either. And it wouldn't have bothered me if the emptiness caused by the lack of action was somehow compensated with dialogue. Unfortunately, that didn't happen. There barely is any dialogue, and nothing memorable comes out of the characters' mouth.

I have to admit though, that in spite of its slowness that gives the feeling this films goes on forever and the poor writing, this film is visually spectacular. On this aspect, from the sets to the scenery to the colours to the cinematography, this film is breathtaking. Too bad you can't make a good film out of that only.

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