"The Assassin" is a masterpiece, a work of epic beauty. The film is set into historical China, the Tang Dynasty of 9th Century Mainland China. A female, who is highly skilled in sword fighting techniques and other martial arts, has the order to assassinate the governor of a remote province. There is already a legion of Chinese martial films and Director Hsiao-Hsien Hou followed a tradition of movies that celebrate a female master of this art form who defeats all her male combatants like "House of Flying Daggers" and "Crouching Dragon, Hidden Tiger". But this film maybe the best of them all.
I didn´t care much about the plot and I am not sure whether the story made much sense. Anyway, not much happened. But, I was awed by the cinematography and I indulged into scenes which look like a fluent kaleidoscope of master paintings. Gorgeous!
Some scenes remind me a bit of the movie "The Leopard", even that this movie describes the life of an Sicilian aristocrat in a very different time & situation. Both films are very slow & contemplative. Both take their time to submerge into the worlds and environments of their characters.
I would like to see more from Qi Shu, who impersonated the assassin with grace. Casting Chen Chang as the governor was an excellent choice. The actor, who is well known for his martial arts flicks, impressed here in very different and stoic role.
"The Assassin" is a must for cineasts and art lovers in general!