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.



Total Count: 122


Audience Score

User Ratings: 5,430
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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.


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 (122) | Top Critics (28) | Fresh (98) | Rotten (24)

  • May just be the most tedious and enervating kung-fu movie ever conceived.

    Jan 22, 2016 | Rating: 1/5 | Full Review…

    Kevin Maher

    Times (UK)
    Top Critic
  • A breathtaking work of art which revolves around a haunting female lead.

    Jan 21, 2016 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…
  • "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…

Audience Reviews for The Assassin

  • Apr 30, 2016
    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 M Super Reviewer
  • Oct 21, 2015
    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 C Super Reviewer
  • Oct 15, 2015
    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 B Super Reviewer
  • Oct 01, 2015
    VIFF Review: This is really shocking. If you want to cast in your ballad for the most overrated film of 2015, you might want to place your bets on "The Assassin". It won the Best Director award at "Cannes" this year and this is made by a great director, but besides the film's stunning cinematography and art direction, this film was just plain boring, You might think that a movie called "The Assassin" would have some some great action sequences right? Nope, they are only seconds long and are not special or entertaining at all and there are barely any in the film to begin with. Ok, so the story and performances must be really great then, like a more performance and story driven movie like "The grandmaster" from last year right? Wrong again, the story is as plan as day and we have seen it a thousand times. There are two lands at peace, but now they one side wants to attack the other. It's been done to fucking death and done far greater in other films. I'm really not sure what "The Assassin" is. I guess it's about an assassin who is order to kill a man in the other land who she was previously engaged to...but she can't. What a shocker. Sometimes even the camera runs far to long on a shot and you just want it to move the fuck on. The good: cinematography, art direction, sound design, and ok performances, The bad: everything else. I'm afraid to say that "The Assassin" is a mega disappointment, especially since I was anticipating this as one of the best films of the year, but in fact, it truthfully is one of the worst.
    ZACHO D Super Reviewer

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