Voted Sight and Sound magazine's top film of 2015 and winner of the Best Director prize at Cannes, Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s stunning film follows a lethal assassin as she’s sent back to her homeland to kill the powerful governor of Weibo, a man to whom she was once betrothed. But once there, Yinniang’s emotions lead her to defy her orders, only to discover a new, unexpected source of strength.
Boasting some of the most stunning, sumptuously composed cinematography ever committed to digital film, The Assassin offers a bold and highly original take on the wuxia (martial arts fantasy) genre; one which focuses on the meditative, zen-infused moments between battles rather than the act of combat itself. Despite this emphasis, the drama is punctuated by cleverly kinetic fight sequences, which Hou and cinematographer Mark Lee Ping Bing audaciously frame in exquisite wide shots rather than the quick-cut montages traditional to the genre. The result is a film that opens up wuxia fiction to a wholly new direction, while also illustrating that Hou’s singular approach to pacing and tone can translate across genres.