The Assassin

Critics Consensus

The Assassin's thrilling visuals mark a fresh highlight for director Hsiao-hsien Hou, even if its glacial pace may keep some viewers at arm's length.



Reviews Counted: 119

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Audience Score

User Ratings: 5,423


All Critics | Top Critics
Average Rating: N/A
Reviews Count: 0
Fresh: 0
Rotten: 0


Average Rating: 3.1/5

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Movie Info

A female assassin is ordered to take out a nobleman she was previously engaged to. Directed by Hou Hsiao-hsien.

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Qi Shu
as Nie Yinniang
Chen Chang
as Tian Ji'an
Shao-Huai Chang
as Huji (as Hsieh Hsin-Ying)
Sheu Fang-Yi
as Princess Jiacheng
Satoshi Tsumabuki
as The Mirror Polisher
Zhen Yu Lei
as Tien Xing (Yinniang's Uncle)
Zhen Yu Lei
as Tien Xing (Yinniang's Uncle)
Fang Mei
as Yinniang' Grandmother
Ni Dahong
as Nie Feng
Jacques Picoux
as Lady Tian's Teacher
Mei Yong
as Yinniang' Mother
Yun Zhou
as Lady Tian
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News & Interviews for The Assassin

Critic Reviews for The Assassin

All Critics (119) | Top Critics (25)

  • "The Assassin" is gorgeous to look at, but not all that compelling to watch.

    Jan 15, 2016 | Rating: C | Full Review…
  • It's so lovely, from the brocade draped interiors to the mist moving over a landscape in the half light, like a series of confounding paintings placed end to end.

    Nov 10, 2015
  • The visuals relegate the acting to secondary importance. They overwhelm the story. And they make "The Assassin" unforgettable.

    Nov 5, 2015 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • One hallmark of a good action director is the ability to make stillness and silence as dramatic as movement and noise. The Assassin, directed by Taiwan's Hou Hsiao-hsien, carries this principle as far as it can go.

    Nov 5, 2015 | Rating: 4.5/5 | Full Review…
  • Part of the problem is Hou's style works at odds with the material.

    Nov 2, 2015 | Rating: 1/4 | Full Review…
  • The Assassin is like some stereotypical beauty - gorgeous, but frustratingly incapable of prolonged conversation.

    Oct 30, 2015 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Assassin


A stunning film with gorgeous visuals and a splendid sound design, but also way too measured and cryptic in its narrative, edited in a way that makes it feel like a frustrating puzzle that lacks important information and doesn't justify any effort to try to understand it.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

Yes the plot is mostly indecipherable but at a certain point you stop caring as I don't believe your supposed to be all that invested in the story. What matters are the visual and auditory elements . . . the gorgeous cinematography, the panoramic backgrounds, and the way the sounds of nature seem to hijack every scene.

Alec Barniskis
Alec Barniskis

Super Reviewer

Although the cinematography is lush and the locations grandiose, THE ASSASSIN establishes a steady pace that prefers stillness over action as well as a storytelling method that executes through staccato bursts amidst a domineering and overarching insistence on patience. Both the performances and fight scenes are muted yet beautiful to observe, but the film ultimately results in well-crafted parts that make up a frustrating whole in which the end feeling is empty rather than profound and a whimper rather than a bang. Simply, it is visually stimulating but emotionally flat.

Sheldon Chau
Sheldon Chau

Super Reviewer


'The Assassin' is not your typical 'Wuxia' martial arts epic, it is however an incredibly intelligent and beautifully shot film that relies more on audience perception than the existential expositions and purely on the characters at play. Then after seeing this once I felt I really needed to see it again, not just for it's luscious and outstanding cinematography, but for what's the hidden message so caught up in the drama and conflict at play within its historical setting. Aside from having both inner and surface quality, while it's slow moving at times, the action and fighting is pretty awesome. I urge viewers to come to this film with an open mind and not have expectations for a non-stop all out action flick, for one it out-ranks the most underwhelming or cheesiest Wuxia martial arts epics and would most certainly make viewers think a lot more about what they observe from a film such as this.

Luke Eberhardt
Luke Eberhardt

Super Reviewer

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