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The Assassin


Hsiao-Hsien Hou

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About the Movie

Back with his first film in 8 years, legendary Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-hsien wowed this year's Cannes Film Festival (where he won Best Director) with his awe-inspiring THE ASSASSIN - a wondrous take on the traditional wuxia film. The story is simple, if elusive - in 9th-century China, Nie Yinniang is a young woman who was abducted in childhood from a decorated general and raised by a nun who trained her in the martial arts. After 13 years of exile, she is returned to the land of her birth as an exceptional assassin, with orders to kill her betrothed husband-to-be. She must confront her parents, her memories, and her long-repressed feelings in a choice to sacrifice the man she loves or break forever with the sacred way of the righteous assassins. Rich with shimmering, breathing texture and punctuated by brief but unforgettable bursts of action, THE ASSASSIN is a martial arts film like none made before it.


Rotten Tomatoes Movie Reviews


  • Reviews Counted: 115
  • Fresh: 92
  • Rotten: 23
  • Average Rating: 7.6/10

Top Critics' Reviews

Rotten: Part of the problem is Hou's style works at odds with the material. – G. Allen Johnson, San Francisco Chronicle, Nov 2, 2015

Fresh: It's not for everyone. But if you think it's for you - if you believe that beauty is its own reward - find the biggest canvas on which to behold this movie that you possibly can. It's IMAX for aesthetes. – Ty Burr, Boston Globe, Oct 29, 2015

Fresh: As with Wong Kar-wai's "The Ashes of Time," Hou's take on the martial-arts flick is affectionate, but may frustrate fans of the genre. "The Assassin" is a mood piece, evoking rather than explaining. – Mark Jenkins, Washington Post, Oct 29, 2015

Fresh: Although Hou Hsiao-Hsien's The Assassin is technically a wuxia film - martial arts, swordplay, the whoosh of arrows in flight - it is much more a film of stillness, quiet, beauty. – Steven Rea, Philadelphia Inquirer, Oct 29, 2015

Read More About This Movie On Rotten Tomatoes

Customer Reviews

Boring art house film with a dash of Wuxia

Based on the trailer, I thought this movie was going to follow along with some of the great martial arts films China has pumped out over the last 20 years. But what we get is a beautiful to watch film that is slow, complicated and not particularly interesting. Yes, everyone is beautiful, the acting is superb, the locations are stunning, & the few (emphasis on the "few") segments where they fight are well choreographed. But everything moves in such a plodding pace, that even the most seasoned art-film buffs will find the tedium a bit....much. It just seems like they focused more on making a film that is beautiful to watch than one that is interesting to watch, and that is where the film fails, in my opinion. I would only recommend this to anyone who enjoys films like they enjoy their retirement; a time of leisure, with very few moments where anything happens, but things are beautiful just the same.

To summarize; You can pause any moment in this film and make a painting out of it. Too bad the movie is such a bore when it's in motion.

Looks pretty but hard to follow

If you were hoping for Crouching Tiger this is to be avoided. I can forgive non linear story telling, but what I need then is some compelling characters to keep me interested. This has zero character development. The action sequences are neither exciting nor particularly interesting. I was on the verge of walking out of the theater. Several people at my showing did just that.

Worst Chinese martial art movie I have ever seen

This is by far the worst Chinese martial art movie I have ever seen. The whole story can be done in 30 minutes. But the director keeps dragging on. The movie is painfully slow pace. The camera angles are like from someone still studying in film school. The story is confusing. And the fight scenes are like little kids fighting. It is a B movie at best. I will never buy any movie from this director.

The Assassin
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  • $9.99
  • Genre: Drama
  • Released: 2015

Customer Ratings