In ninth century China a highly skilled Assassin is asked to return to her homeland after she fails a task. However when she is there she must murder her cousin – the man she loves. She must decide whether to forever break with the sacred code of assassins or kill her love.
The Assassin isn’t really a film driven by plot, or characters. It’s more driven by aesthetic and general feel. And in line with this it is an incredible looking piece of work. Some of the landscapes are genuinely breath taking, but equally important are the costumes and interiors which combine to create a fully immersive feeling while watching. However unfortunately all of the good points about The Assassin are surface level. It’s a film with very little depth.
The incredible look of this film can only carry you so far within the narrative, and after a point I did lose interest entirely with the drama and purely focused on the setting and the impeccable period detail. I should also mention that without the score I probably would’ve lost interest quite a while earlier. It’s a really interesting and dynamic score consisting mostly of drums and the Guqin – an instrument that reminds you instantly of martial arts classics Hero and Red Cliff (far better movies incidentally). However after about an hour and a bit the sheer lack in any plot other than this person having to kill this other person, and the complete two dimensionality of the characters just turned me off to be honest. But I will say if you are finding it a trudge, stick with it because the credits are fantastic. They show another beautifully composed shot and plays a really fantastic piece of music over the top.
Overall I was really looking forward to watching this because I had heard so many good things, but it really let me down. It’s a technically excellent film, but it is nothing more than that. Watch it for the period detail, landscapes, cinematography and score.