Loosely based on Nie Yinniang by Pei Xing, The Assassin is the story of Nie Yinniang (Shu Qi), a killing machine who recieves missions to terminate corrupt politicans from the nun and master who has raised her since she was a child. Yet when she starts to show mercy, she’s given a mission to test her: she must kill military governor Tian Ji’an (Chang Chen), who is not only her cousin, but the man that she was married to as a child, before all this killing. Yet she soon learns that if she kills Tian Ji’an before his sons are old enough to lead his village of Weibo, she will plunge the world into even more darkness than proving herself to someone who only cares who she murders.
This film was recognized outside of its home country, as Hou Hsiao-hsien won Best Director at the Cannes Film Festival. It was shot in higher mountainous regions of China, places that the director felt were untouched. “We looked for higher-altitude places where modern society hasn’t come in,” he explained to the New York Times. It was also Taiwan’s entry to the Oscars.
It’s more acting and scenery-driven than fighting, unlike so many wuxia, but man, this is a gorgeous film.
Want to see it for yourself?
The Assassin will play Saturday, April 29 at 7 PM in Theater 1 and Sunday, April 30 at 9:15 PM in Theater 1 at Metrograph and Subway Cinema in New York City. It’s part of the 10th Old School Kung Fu Fest: Sword Fighting Heroes Edition from April 21-30, 2023!
Tickets are on sale right here!