This is brief — and I’m not even going to click play, what with my desire to avoid as much as I can before seeing the whole thing — but it’s not every day that you can peek at new material from one of the world’s greatest filmmakers. Needless to say, it seems important to highlight a new teaser for Hou Hsiao-hsien‘s The Assassin, a years-in-the-making wuxia epic that earned the helmer his first-ever Cannes Best Director prize. (Excepting a brief clip, this is the most that’s been made publicly available thus far.)

But don’t just take a few words from someone who’s purposely avoided all footage from it — we couldn’t have loved the picture more if we’d tried. Our Cannes review lays it out neatly, saying “a movie so utterly, defiantly itself is never intended for the masses. To those who seek to be challenged by uniquely cinematic voices, however, the towering achievement that is The Assassin should be apparent. Unhurried, mood-driven, pregnant with a transcendent reflection on life and death, The Assassin is a singular vision realized with absolute mastery of style and a lightness of touch that’s to die for. Of all the competition titles in Cannes this year, it just might be the most vitally unmissable.” For more on the peculiarities of The Assassin, be sure to read our interview with Hou.

Have a look below:


9th-century China. 10-year-old general’s daughter Nie Yinniang is abducted by a nun who initiates her into the martial arts, transforming her into an exceptional assassin charged with eliminating cruel and corrupt local governors. One day, having failed in a task, she is sent back by her mistress to the land of her birth, with orders to kill the man to whom she was promised – a cousin who now leads the largest military region in North China. After 13 years of exile, the young woman must confront her parents, her memories and her long-repressed feelings.

A slave to the orders of her mistress, Nie Yinniang must choose: sacrifice the man she loves or break forever with the sacred way of the righteous assassins.


The Assassin will be given a domestic release by Well Go USA Entertainment.

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