Posted in: by Robert Horton, Contributors, Film Reviews

Review: The Assassin

Shu Qi

It’s been eight years since Taiwanese master Hou Hsiao-hsien released a feature (his lone European project, Flight of the Red Balloon). Much of that time was spent on the sheer physical effort of mounting a meticulous period piece, a film that would find the arthouse filmmaker indulging in his first martial-arts picture. Well. One can only pity the unsuspecting chopsocky fan who wanders into The Assassin after spotting the groovalicious poster, which features Transporter star Shu Qi brandishing a dagger. The scenes of swordplay are brief, clean, and void of fun. They are a momentary distraction from the film’s real concern, which is something to do with emptiness and regret.

The time is the 9th century. A young woman, Nie Yinniang (Shu), has been trained in isolation as an assassin.

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