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
Action and Adventure 2019 98 mins Director: Joe Penna
Mads Mikkelsen astounds in this gripping tale of one man’s gruelling fight for survival against the elements.
Crime 2002 118 mins Director: Doug Liman
The spy thriller that overturned the genre stars Matt Damon as the amnesiac searching for his true identity.
Thriller 2007 115 mins Director: Paul Greengrass
Director Paul Greengrass returns for the third Bourne film, famed for its incredibly tense opening sequence in London Waterloo station.
Crime 2004 108 mins Director: Paul Greengrass
Britain’s Paul Greengrass takes the helms for the spy sequel, shaping the series with his penchant for documentary-style realism.
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.
Sight & Sound's Best Films
Drama 2014 104 mins Director: Peter Strickland
Peter Strickland’s visually and aurally intoxicating tale of sadomasochistic power-play is a daringly erotic sensory feast.
Drama 2014 70 mins Director: Jean-Luc Godard
Jean-Luc Godard’s typically innovative and playful meditation on technology, love and language was acclaimed one of the best films of 2014.
Drama 2015 82 mins Director: Lucile Hadzihalilovic
The long-awaited second feature from Lucile Hadžihalilović (Innocence) is a gorgeously surreal coming-of-age tale laced with bizarre body-horror.
Documentary 2015 118 mins Director: Chantal Akerman
Chantal Akerman’s rigorously observational portrait of her late mother takes on a whole new significance in the wake of the director’s own premature passing.
Drama 2014 98 mins Director: Christian Petzold
Nina Hoss is superb as concentration camp survivor who assumes a new identity, in Christian Petzold’s intricate post-WWII thriller.
Drama 2015 120 mins Director: Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s imaginative, sensuous and enigmatic film about soldiers suffering from a mysterious sleeping sickness.
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.
Drama 2018 92 mins Director: Ash Mayfair
A fourteen-year-old girl falls for another of her polygamous husband's wives in this award-winning coming-of-age tale of love and self-discovery.
Documentary 2018 95 mins Director: Julien Faraut
Mastery, showmanship and the art of filming tennis are laid bare in an entertaining, innovative archive documentary that’s like no sports film you’ve seen.
Documentary 2017 98 mins Director: Steve Keeble
Telling the untold stories from the early days of the UK AIDS pandemic; by the people who were there and the people who supported them.
Biopic 2019 127 mins Director: Ralph Fiennes
Dance perfection meets political defection in director Ralph Fiennes’ intoxicating account of the young life of Rudolf Nureyev.
Drama 2018 111 mins Director: Icíar Bollaín
Paul Laverty (I, Daniel Blake) scripts this inspiring biopic of Carlos Acosta, and his journey from a run-down Havana neighborhood to becoming the first black principal dancer of The Royal Ballet.
Drama 2018 87 mins Director: Jordana Spiro
After being released from prison, a young African American woman goes in search of her father.