Elegant, surprisingly delicate, precise down a tee with stunning cinematography, The Assassin is not the average acrobatic martial arts feature.
More contemplative that combative, it’s quietness is both its strength and weakness. It’s hard not to get lost in the sumptuous interiors and breathtaking landscapes – yet the minimum dialogue, lack of clarity and sporadic action lulls you into occasional moments of soporific stupor.
It’s certainly a change of direction for Hsiao-Hsien Hou (Flight of the Red Balloon, A Time to Live A Time To Die), regarded as one of the most important directors working in world cinema. And while successful on the international film festival circuit, it’s cinematographer Ping Bin Lee (Renoir, In the Mood For Love) who has been picking up the plaudits.