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
Sicario 2: Soldado
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.
Blade of the Immortal
Action and Adventure 2017 141 mins Director: Miike Takashi
Takashi Miike's epically blood-strewn swordplay saga follows a samurai cursed with immortal life, who teams up with a young girl to avenge the murder of her parents.
Kill Bill Vol. 2
Action and Adventure 2004 137 mins Director: Quentin Tarantino
The conclusion of Tarantino's kung fu epic follows the Bride's (Uma Thurman) fateful encounter with her former fiance (David Carradine).
Thriller 2017 124 mins Director: Jung Byung-gil
Jung Byung-gil's superb, hyper-kinetic action thriller follows a female assassin who takes a new identity but finds her past life inescapable.
Action and Adventure 2016 90 mins Director: Ben Wheatley
Ben Wheatley’s (High-Rise, Sightseers) all-guns-blazing bullet opera, starring Brie Larson, Cillian Murphy and Armie Hammer.
Sight & Sound's Best Films
Period drama 2016 89 mins Director: William Oldroyd
Florence Pugh shines in this exceptional British debut of a young wife's need for freedom, whatever the cost.
Drama 2014 113 mins Director: Céline Sciamma
In the tough suburbs of Paris, sixteen-year-old Marieme decides to reinvent herself when she joins a girl gang.
Drama 2014 95 mins Director: Andrew Haigh
One of the most acclaimed British features of recent years, starring Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay as a couple rocked by news from the past.
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.
No Home Movie
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.
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 2016 104 mins Director: kogonada
A young librarian with a thing for Modernist architecture expands her horizons when a Korean lawyer (John Cho) comes to town, in this impeccable debut from acclaimed video artist Kogonada.
Drama 2016 88 mins Director: John Carroll Lynch
Harry Dean Stanton gives the performance of a lifetime as an irascible nonagenarian maverick in a New Mexican town, grappling with his mortality.
The Marvellous Mabel Normand: The Leading Lady of Film Comedy
Comedy 2018 78 mins Director: Mabel Normand
Discover early Hollywood's irrepressible comic pioneer, showcased in this delightful package of short films in which she appears alongside fellow greats Charlie Chaplin, Fatty Arbuckle and Oliver Hardy.
Blue Black Permanent
Drama 1992 86 mins Director: Margaret Tait
Engaging, poetic story of three generations of Scottish women made by artist Margaret Tait.
Anchor and Hope
Comedy 2018 113 mins Director: Carlos Marques-Marcet
Sweetly swaying houseboat comedy about a couple whose river-bound existence is upended by the arrival of an old friend.
An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn
Comedy 2017 108 mins Director: Jim Hosking
Lulu Danger's (Aubrey Plaza) unsatisfying marriage takes a turn for the worse when a former lover comes to town in this strange and surreal comedy.