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 105 mins Director: Stephen Maxwell Johnson
A young Indigenous man teams up with a policeman to track down a warrior outlaw in this piercing exploration of justice and morality within the Australian settlement.
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).
Sight & Sound's Best Films
Drama 2017 127 mins Director: Andrey Zvyagintsev
Andrey Zvyagintsev (Elena, Leviathan) delivers a masterpiece in this caustic look at contemporary Russian society, a failed marriage and the disappearance of a child. A major prize winner at both Cannes and BFI London Film Festival.
Thriller 2019 87 mins Director: Kitty Green
Kitty Green's #MeToo drama is a sobering take on one day in the life of a film company assistant.
Thriller 2019 104 mins Director: Brandon Cronenberg
In the near future, a cool and ruthless assassin who uses other people’s bodies to carry out execution-style killings comes unstuck when her latest vehicle resists.
Thriller 2019 104 mins Director: Ladj Ly
Ladj Ly’s extraordinary Cannes Jury Prize-winning debut obliterates the myth of cultural integration in France.
Horror 2020 66 mins Director: Rob Savage
The lockdown horror sensation from British director Rob Savage follows six friends who disturb a malevolent spirit during a Zoom séance.
Drama 2019 118 mins Director: Shannon Murphy
Seriously ill Milla (Eliza Scanlen) clashes with her parents, who disapprove when she brings home her sketchy new boyfriend Toby, in this tragicomic debut from Shannon Murphy.
Featuring Chang Chen
Action and Adventure 2013 109 mins
Wong Kar-Wai’s lavish martial arts biopic tells the story of Ip Man, the legendary trainer who became Bruce Lee’s mentor.
Drama 2021 76 mins Director: Darragh Carey
Affluent YouTuber Leah is drawn to shy youth Benji as the subject for her Brixton documentary, but her desire for edgy footage leads them both down a dangerous path.
Comedy 2010 36 mins Director: Mike Leigh
Mike Leigh's sports-infused comedy short starring Eddie Marsan, produced as part of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad.
Drama 1990 103 mins Director: Mike Leigh
Mike Leigh’s hilarious yet tragic domestic portrait features a dazzling ensemble performance and remains a potent, true-to-life story, and one of the celebrated director’s most admired and affecting films.
Drama 2019 140 mins Director: Karim Aïnouz
A deserving winner of Cannes’ Un Certain Regard prize, this sumptuous tale of two sisters cruelly separated by family and fate makes for deeply moving drama.
Documentary 2021 81 mins Director: Sue Carpenter
An inspirational story of rebellion, courage and hope as Belmaya, a young Dalit woman in Nepal, silenced and subjugated for most of her life, takes up the movie camera to tell her story.
Drama 1965 123 mins Director: John Schlesinger
Julie Christie stars in the quintessential swinging sixties film, as a young woman flitting nonchalantly through London's nightlife.