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.
Action and Adventure
Crime 2018 159 mins Director: S. Craig Zahler
As brutal and uncompromising as its title would suggest, the third feature from S. Craig Zahler (Bone Tomahawk, Brawl in Cell Block 99) is another instant classic crime drama.
Action and Adventure 2018 98 mins Director: Joe Penna
Mads Mikkelsen astounds in this gripping tale of one man’s gruelling fight for survival against the elements.
Action and Adventure 2017 100 mins Director: Lance Daly
During the Great Famine, an Irish Ranger returns from war to discover even greater devastation at home.
Children's 1942 106 mins Director: Zoltan Korda
A Technicolor marvel and early adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s celebrated novel, following a young boy raised in the jungle by animals.
Action and Adventure 2018 122 mins Director: Stefano Sollima
Pulsating sequel to the acclaimed drug-cartel thriller, which sees federal agent Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) re-teaming with the enigmatic Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro).
Thriller 2017 108 mins Director: Coralie Fargeat
Coralie Fargeat's gloriously bloody tale of one woman's retribution; a razor-sharp feminist subversion of the revenge-thriller.
Sight & Sound's Best Films
Comedy 2016 118 mins Director: Jim Jarmusch
Adam Driver excels in this effortlessly charming tale of a bus driver poet in New Jersey, filmed with typically groovy elan by Jim Jarmusch.
Comedy 2016 162 mins Director: Maren Ade
A lonely prankster upends the life of his high-powered daughter in a riotous comedy, deep and sharp.
Drama 2017 112 mins Director: Sean Baker
Tangerine director Sean Baker presents another visionary take on the wild ups and dangerous downs of life in America’s underbelly, featuring an Oscar-nominated turn from Willem Dafoe.
Drama 2017 115 mins Director: Lucrecia Martel
Argentinian director Lucrecia Martel returns with a fine adaptation of Antonio Di Benedetto’s existential novel. In her first feature since 2008’s The Headless Woman, Martel creates a richly layered exploration of personal malaise.
Drama 2017 121 mins Director: Valeska Grisebach
Masculine tensions reaching boiling point in this sizzling, brilliantly observed neo-western, where migrant German construction workers are pitched against villagers in remotest Bulgaria.
Drama 2018 189 mins Director: Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s follow-up to his Palme d’Or-winning Winter Sleep is a persuasive portrait of a young writer at odds with his hometown and family.
Featuring Chang Chen
Action and Adventure 2013 109 mins Director: Wong Kar-wai
Wong Kar-Wai’s lavish martial arts biopic tells the story of Ip Man, the legendary trainer who became Bruce Lee’s mentor.
Historical drama 2019 126 mins Director: Todd Haynes
Mark Ruffalo plays an attorney trying to uncover the corporate scandal of a chemical company poisoning a local community, in this searching ecological drama from Todd Haynes (Safe, Carol).
Drama 2019 89 mins Director: Werner Herzog
Werner Herzog is on typically thought-provoking form, dramatising the work of a ‘rent-a-relative’ service, in this Tokyo-set meditation on contemporary alienation.
Drama 2019 109 mins Director: Hlynur Pálmason
Iceland’s finest actor Ingvar Sigurðsson gives a heart-breaking and Cannes award-winning performance as widowed cop who becomes increasingly obsessed with his wife’s death.
Documentary 2020 97 mins Director: Kirby Dick
A searing exploration of the costs of coming forward, turning up the volume on one of the biggest #MeToo stories in the music industry.
Drama 2019 112 mins Director: Thomas Clay
The wife of a puritanical farmer seems resigned to her lot, until she has her head turned by the arrival of a young couple in Thomas Clay’s provocative period drama.
Drama 2020 121 mins Director: Jonathan Jakubowicz
Jesse Eisenberg brings to life the extraordinary true story of mime artist Marcel Marceau’s role in rescuing Jewish orphans from the Nazis.