The Assassin (刺客聶隱娘) Movie Review

The Assassin (刺客聶隱娘) Movie Review | by

Recommended Audience: Fans of Shu Qi 舒淇, Chang Chen 张震, Zhou Yun 周韵, Tsumabuki Satoshi 妻夫木聪, Ethan Ruan 阮经天 , Xu Fan 徐帆, Nikki Hsin-Ying Hsieh 谢欣颖, Hou Hsiao Hsien 侯孝贤 and drama/action movie fans

Assassin Poster

The Assassin (刺客聶隱娘) Movie Synopsis

9th century China: 10-year-old general’s daughter Nie Yinniang is abducted by a nun who initiates her into the martial arts, transforming her into an exceptional assassin charged with eliminating cruel and corrupt local governors. The Assassin Shu QiOne day, having failed in a task, she is sent back by her mistress to the land of her birth, with orders to kill the man to whom she was promised – a cousin who now leads the largest military region in North China. A slave to the orders of her mistress, Nie Yinniang must choose: sacrifice the man she loves or break forever with the sacred way of the righteous assassins.

The Assassin (刺客聶隱娘) Viewer Rating: 3/5 ***

The Assassin (刺客聶隱娘) Movie Review:

This is not a mainstream film many will know how to appreciate. Watching this film in the cinemas, there were a couple of people who walked out of the cinema, and the duo sitting beside me was looking at their phone 80% of the time instead of watching the film. I had to admit, I frowned at the opening 4:3 black and white sequence. That’s not how I thought a period film would be, it felt fake. The Assassin movie stillsBut when the scene changes, I was blown away by the amazing scenery. The lakes, trees, forests and birds. It felt like a painting come alive. The dancers were dressed in light robes and the set was illuminated with beauty lights. Then I realised, I wasn’t watching a movie, I was watching the life of the people from the Tangs.

Ethan Ruan Chang ChenThere were many silent moments. The film was slow. The camera hardly moves. There were moments where I was tired of waiting, waiting to watch Nie Yinniang make her move as she stay hidden, eavesdropping most of the time. A long take of a spiralling smoke brought me back to the film. It was amazing how the Director made use of minimal special effects and in the most natural way to bring out witchcraft. It was then when I start to appreciate the scenes a little more. Shu Qi Nie YinniangThe fighting scenes were of 3S qualities – Swift, Short and Silent. This is very different from the usual period fighting dramas majority of us are used to watching. Initially, I was intrigued by the fight scenes. Then I was in awe. Isn’t this how the real fight scenes should be? Who will warn the opponent with their shouts? In the film, Yinniang’s skills were so good that she didn’t even have to defeat her opponents. A smart opponent will know that they’ve lost without her going for the kill.

The Assassin characterOne of the best part came from this eye-candy Tsumabuki Satoshi who acted as mirror-polisher. The final moment when Nie Yinniang (Shu Qi) decided to join him to travel around the world, the happiness in this simple man’s steps and the smile Nie Yinniang gave him (the only smile she had in the film), it felt like that was all it matters in the end. Chang ChenWhile I’m impressed with the Director’s work, I had to admit that this is definitely not a crowd-pleasing film. Watch it with an open mind, observe the details and you might learn to appreciate it a little more.

Do You Know?

474206290Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-Hsien won the Cannes Best Director Award with this film. It is also the taiwanese entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 88th Academy Awards The Assassin Nie YinniangIn order to pursue perfection, Director Hou forgo many scenes which he had filmed, and even refilm certain scenes after some time. There was a scene where Chang Chen was sitting down, when the Director reviewed the scene after some time and found it off, he got the crew to rebuilt the whole set and re-film it. A scene featuring Chang Chen and Nikki Hsin-Ying Hsieh by the bed wasalso refilmed after half a year when editing started. the-assassin-cannes-film-festival-3A film that took 2 years to film. The director filmed this movie like filming a documentary. Shu Qi revealed how amazing she felt to have to act a character for so long. Besides having acrophobia, Shu Qi said that she was not good with martial arts and had a heard time trying to find the agility and behaviour of a martial arts expert. The director also want her to use 9 lines to act out this role.

Behind The Scenes and Interviews

Check out The Assassin (刺客聶隱娘)Official Website and Facebook Page!
The Assassin (刺客聶隱娘) is out in cinemas on 10 September 2015.

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*Disclosure: No monetary compensation was received for the movie review.

23 thoughts on “The Assassin (刺客聶隱娘) Movie Review”

  1. Watched this one already since I love Chinese periodic films. Quite disappointed since I thought this could be another of those fast-paced Chinese action flick. The pace is a little bit slow, but in a way it was offset by the actress beauty. ha,ha,ha…

    1. Haha… you guys did not make the wrong choice. I guess you are referring to Assassination? That’s the Korean movie, not this one…

      Yes, I did a review on Our Times. It’s the all time highest viewership now…

  2. Surprised only to see a 3/5 for this film! This is Taiwan’s submission for the Oscar and it has high early buzz to win. I definitely want to go see it. – Fred

  3. When I was a kid,any oriental movies particularly depicting family tragedies with display of martial arts were my favorites. Though I didn’t understand the dialogue. Now there is a subtitle for every dialogue making it easy to follow up the entire movie show.

  4. Hmm. I really like Chinese period movies, but the pacing of this one might make me walk out too. But having read about the meticulous director, that might have just changed my mind.

  5. this seems to be a good movie. Havn’t watch a movie for a while now. i better set my expectations about it. 🙂

  6. With the plot and the time in history, I think this movie will be loved by my grandparents. The actress is popular and we watched her many films before.

  7. I love movies that have an “old” setting. It brings you back in time not only to enjoy a story from the past but also how they dressed, ate, lived. It’s all so nice.

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