"-So I chose not to kill him. -The way of the sword is pitiless." (From the film)
In ninth-century China, an exiled assassin must choose between love or duty when she receives orders to kill a man from her past.
One of the greatest living filmmakers, Hou Hsiao-Hsien's first film in eight years takes us into the borders of 9th century China. We are inside the Tang Dynasty where political contrivances, killings and power struggles are at play. As a child, Nie Yinniang was separated from her family for political reasons. Raised to become an assassin, she perches on the margins, eyeing her kill while experiencing the world and its turbulence from a quiet exile. Glamorously beautiful, she is put to the test when she is ordered to kill a man from her past. The film focuses on the spiritual awakening Yinniang is going through, her looking within herself and transforming from a warrior into a human. Hou's film has a pure stillness in its capturing the world of emotions and the world of actions. It is an enchanting film that invites the viewer to peer beneath the surface, while whispering that the world may eventually grow kinder.
2015 CANNES BEST DIRECTOR, TORONTO
Hou Hsiao-Hsien's films won numerous awards at prestigious international film festivals including Venice, Berlin and Cannes. Among these films are A Time to Live, A Time to Die (1985), A City of Sadness (1989), The Puppet Master (1993), and Café Lumière (2003). In 2007, Flight of the Red Balloon -starring Juliette Binoche- was presented at Cannes in Un Certain Regard. His last film The Assassin (2015) brought him The Best Director Award at Cannes.