A film by Hsiao-Hsien Hou

Cast: Chen Chang, Qi Shu, Yun Zhou

The film centers on Nie Yinniang (played by Shu Qi), an assassin who is directed to slay corrupt government officials by her master, Jiaxin, a nun who raised her from the age of ten.

Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-Hsien has been away for eight years. He is back with this gorgeously picturesque film The assassin. This film and I will give you a warning it is for a certain type of people. This is not your typical martial film it has drama in it and it is done differently than any other film. It is a cultural film here I am going to try to explain it as much as I can.

Two women are seated at a table with red pomegranates on it. Behind them is a screen painting of a pine tree. The season was autumn I know this because of the pomegranates are in season in autumn.Takasago is the name of a city, the two pine trees represent a long marital relationship.The pomegranate represents keeping  the title or rank from generation to generation in the same family.The peony symbolizes beauty, higher social status, and luxury.The film is actually about one particularly famous assassin.The Tang Dynasty (618-907) was the golden age of Chinese culture.Nie Yinniang was trained by a nun beginning at age ten in The Biography of Nie Yinniang. At the time a nun was the political power behind the assassin (that is what I discover). In this film we have a former princess who is passing judgment and using her pupil as an executioner. The teacher of martial art here is a nun that’s what the director wanted instead to be a male figure to make this story exceptional or less ordinary. Shu brings a sad and resourceful beauty to a role as athletic as it is melancholy. Hsiao-Hsien Hou paid attention to the detail of the costumes as well the decor and the colors are exceptional here. You will have to see this film one or two more time to get its meaning. It is a story that is been redone so many times before. The film’s pacing is very slow, and the actions of characters are very simple and straight to the point. Hsiao-Hsien Hou has won for best director at Cannes. No surprise there.

Main The Assassin



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