The Assassin

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During the last years of the Tang Dynasty, a young aristocrat by the name of Nie Yinniang (Shu Qi) was taken from her home by her aunt, the Princess turned Taoist nun, Jia Xin (Fang Yi Sheu), to be trained as an assassin. Studying the ways of the assassin since she was ten, Yinniang has grown into nothing short of a living weapon, one wielded by her aunt to slay the corrupt government officials who would otherwise rule unchecked. But when Yinniang unexpectedly shows mercy to one of her intended targets, her aunt punishes her with a ruthless test of mettle. Tasked with killing Tian Ji’an (Chang Chen), the military governor of the northern province of Weibo, Yinniang has no choice but to obey. Setting out to do just that, Yinniang is painfully aware of the fact that following her aunt’s orders will mean killing not only her cousin but also the man that was once her betrothed. Undeterred by her past ties to Tian Ji’an, Yinniang is willing to follow her aunt’s orders until, through extensive observation, she realizes that doing so would jeopardize the stability of the entire province.  Torn between what is right and what she’s been ordered to do, Yinniang must decide which path she will tread. With the fate of so many resting in her hands, will she choose to follow her head or her heart? Loosely based on the seventh-century tale of “Nie Yinniang” by Pei Xing, “The Assassin” is a 2015 Taiwan/Hong Kong/China co-produced wuxia film directed by Hou Hsiao Hsien.