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Movie: The Assassin (2015)
Genre: ,
Director: Hsiao-Hsien Hou
Date of Release: 27 Aug 2015
Duration: 105
IMDB Rating: 6.3/10
Movie review score

About The Assassin (2015)

A prime example is the 11th-century landscape masterpiece “Early Spring” by Guo Xi. Perhaps Hou’s cinema could best be understood by applying the same idea to it; it is driven by neither narrative nor characters, but by the “qi” animating them and their times. I have no trouble understanding why this esoteric movie gets such an underrated score here on IMDb. The film is not for the lay Western audience. ). Nie Yinniang, played by Qi Shu (The Transporter) was betrothed to marry her cousin, Tian Ji’an, played by Chen Chang (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) she was given to a Taoist Nun when she was ten because, “reasons”. The nun then sends her to assassinate her cousin to whom she was betrothed and who is now a powerful leader. If you can decipher such curious camera angles and what’s not shown or even talked about, you too can infer the meaning of this film, which isn’t that mind-blowing when you do, but it’s fun to participate along the way. The other group, inclined to the strengthening of local power, includes the wife of the lord (their marriage is a political alliance at the beginning, the same with the marriage of the lord’s princess mother). As a fan who always love dramas of political fights, I quite fancy this story. In fact they shouldn’t have been since they served no purpose for the story and cluttered the scenes. Much more can be written about the movie, but I don’t want to make this review too long. In his 2014 book on Chinese painting, Japanese author Bunri Usami articulates his theory that the works are depictions not of their ostensible subjects but of their “qi,” a slippery word that lacks a good English equivalent because the very concept is absent. The most interesting element was the old man with the white beard getting shot with crossbows. The action sequences are well done and I cant fault the acting, but that does not save this terrible movie. It’s boring, it’s beautiful and features some impressive mastery of camera work, lavish costumes and sets that are beautiful but it’s also tedious. The trailers worked as marketing plot as audiences thought it would be like Donnie Yen’s WuXia(Dragon) or Wong Kar Wai’s Grandmasters. It’s not a beauty that touches, it’s a beauty that dares, but you just don’t get anything. By this point, there was really no need for dialogue or excessive expressions. On top of this, it moves at a snail pace, with a thin narrative that can barely be followed and next to no character development or even interaction. They could, of course, have been fluent in Chinese to a man; on the other hand … But did I care at all? (2) the story is about how Nie Yinniang is almost a Tao master, but she still hasn’t transcended the wounds of her youth, when she was of royal descent and scheduled to play a primary role in Weido. It sounds absurd when I say it – but in many of the later scenes of the movie, I really did not know who the characters were or what they were trying to accomplish. They may as well have not been there. What’s going on here? But oh, the pace of the film is slow. There just wasn’t anything that left a lasting impression. It took far too long. If Ozu had made Wuxia films then probably those films would have looked something like “The Assassin”. In history of China, the tension between the central control and the local force has always been a problem for thousands of years. But that is not enough. Even the costumes, make-up & production design exhibit a meticulous amount of research that went into the period it tries to bring alive on the screen. But the beautiful episode ends without going anywhere; there is nothing to tell the audience what it is, and absolutely no connection with the plot.

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The Assassin has absolutely nothing going on. Watching the film is like studying a life in slow motion. This was made worse because often instead of seeing things happen, you heard them described. OK, I’m not a huge fan of “wire-fu”, but for the most part eastern cinema is a visual feast that I love to gorge on. But at 30 minutes, I just gave up. Making use of some of the most spectacular scenery in cinema, parts of the film have the feel of a cultural documentary. I a referring to such statements as: From Variety: “Perhaps the most ravishingly beautiful film Hou has ever made, and certainly one of his most deeply transporting…” And New Yorker: “At its most persuasive, it conjures live-action versions of classical Chinese paintings, as if Hou were more at ease with the settings and stakes than with the personalities….” And from the guardian: (5 stars) “The Assassin arrives here after a sensational premiere in Cannes last year, where its hypnotic adagio earned Hou the director’s prize and connoisseurs hailed it as a masterpiece….” And the Telegraph: (5 stars) “Taiwanese director Hsiao-Hsien Hou’s Palme d’Or contender is a martial arts saga like no other – and one of the prettiest films you’ll ever see…” It goes on and on. au/film- review-the-assassin/ This movie is not a very commercialised one, meaning it might not be directed in the way that most people can easily understand. I adore Eastern Cinema. Not a bad film, but certainly one I did not enjoy. So, when you see her fighting guards filmed from afar, it’s because she is engaged in a fight which is not important to her. ‘The Assassin’ is the first of his films that I myself have seen, and I’ve got to say I have mixed feelings. The plot, such as it is, is set in the 9th century and involves a general’s daughter who was kidnapped by a nun who trains her in martial arts. Once there she gets caught up in some palace intrigue, but it’s all sketched out very lightly and, to be honest, for some of the time I was having trouble staying awake. In a word, this is this film in a nutshell – contemplative. Actually, The Birdman is far better than The Assassin, even though I wrote: “…a piece of self-indulgent nonsense made by a totally self-absorbed industry and reviewed by totally self-absorbed movie ‘insiders’, who think that the world at large is interested in their own egotistical torments….” But there is no denying that unlike The Assassin, it did have a story to tell, and there was genuine drama and emotion and there was some pretty good acting going on. And it’s difficult to follow despite it being a very simple story. The film would introduce random characters with no explanation as to who they were or who they were interacting with. To fully appreciate it you need some background in Tao and in martial arts, and you need to crack some codes. That’s by and large where the movie starts. While one would assume from the title and summary that it is sword-fighting fare, the movie is sure to infuriate lovers of the “wuxia” genre, because any outbursts of martial arts action are indeed short, few, and far between. Hou Hsiao-Hsien is one of those directors the mere mention of whose name sends filmsnobs into paroxysms of pleasure. Now I try to see the good in art house movies and try to at least respect it for what it is. The pace is sleepy, the actors do not have much to do and the director describes the whole story as if he was in a dreamy delirium: presenting to us multiple versions of the same scene, that seem to happen with no logic and in undefined time. Weibo, the place where the story happens, has witnessed two different political forces fighting with each other. Well, you’d think that considering the film is about a female assassin that it would have a lot more energy. There is no substance in this movie, no memorable action, nada. It’s difficult to wipe off the images from one’s mind long after the end credits begin to roll. Nie Yinniang is also still struggling to transcend her own master, the nun abbot who taught her all… In short, it wasn’t his choice, so why does she want to kill him for it?

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There are a few splendid visuals—mostly nature scenes— but after that comes the big problem: it’s very hard to figure out the who, what, and why. I give this movie a 2/10 because I have seen worse. Ironically, one of the few positive reviews written by one of the movie-going ‘erks, who believe it or not, actually compared The Assassin with The Birdman – but in a good way. What’s with the guy who is almost buried alive? The Assassin Review Maybe If You Were Born in China? It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to think that probably a third of the movie is setting shots of forest, lakes, trees, mountains, hills, goats, people’s faces while they do something with their hands off camera, people walking, more people walking, people dancing, buildings at night, buildings in the day, buildings at sunset, buildings at sunrise, grass, person walking in grass, unknown person standing in trees, person looking surprised, then walking away… 3). The film’s pacing is very slow, and the actions of characters are very simple. The action is sparse and not very well choreographed, in fact the fight sequences are themselves pretty dull and overly arty. But it seems like pretentious film academics just feel the need to like this movie. Then sit back and get ready to watch a lot of people who stand there and say nothing, or participate in mundane everyday life events without an explanation. Despite the well shot scenery and stand out costumes. I consider myself a person who usually does not have a hard time understanding what is going on in movies – even the ones that require some thought from the viewer 🙂 But during this movie, I almost never knew what was going on. Am I suppose to be super genius to understand the plot of this movie? I’m surprised by the bad reviews on IMDb. I think the problem is that a film titled “The Assassin” happens to attract a certain type of audience–people who are only interested in martial arts flicks, or who walk in expecting an action-packed adrenaline ride. The Assassin is obviously a labour of love for Hou, but it is a Herculean labour to watch this film through to the end. His approach is nothing less than a new cinematic paradigm that likewise requires a new way of watching from audiences, much as cool jazz and ambient music once required a new way of listening. Having watched this in Singapore, and I have checked the box office for it in Asia countries and of course in China, I can see why it flopped. This means that everyone watching the film will need to use the captions that accompany the movie… The dialogue is inadequate, the continuity terrible. And of course she doesn’t perform any better on her second chance. Turns out this governor was betrothed to the Yinniang but forced to marry someone else for political reasons. You admire its beauty, but… Even in China, where the cultural barriers are not supposed to be a big problem, lots of people fall into sleep in the cinema. Assassin is a Taiwanese film that I can appreciate even though I didn’t particularly like it. If you’re looking for action then don’t bother with this one, you’ll fall asleep before your 2nd yawn. The moment she lets all the fuss of common humanity go is nicely screened when at the end you see how the court in Weibo is engaged in still novel intrigues, but as the camera takes Nie Yinniang’s perspective, we see how the camera drifts away from the whole show in total disinterest. When Yinniang fails to kill her target, the Nun believes she needs to toughen up and sends Yinniang to her to her childhood province to kill the man she was betrothed to 13 years ago. IMDb contains pages and pages of negative comments, similar to those shown above. Is Hou a Time Lord? I was to bored to finish it so it gets a 1. Pretty film. Once you have and do that, the film opens up its delicious flavor.

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