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Film of the year The Assassin out in April

02/02/2016

Hailed by the prestigious film journal Sight and Sound as the best film of 2015 The Assassin, directed by Taiwanese master Hsiao-Hsien Hou, streets April 20 courtesy of Vendetta Films. It will be available on Blu-ray and DVD.

Eight years since Hou's last film, the acclaimed Flight of the Red Balloon, The Assassin, his first wuxia martial arts film, premiered at the Cannes Film Festival where it was greeted with rousing reviews despite rumours, most of them unfounded, of production difficulties. Hou took out the coveted Best Director award and the plaudits keep coming.

Ever since Cannes The Assassin has been continually cited by top critics such as J. Hoberman as the best film of 2015. Hoberman writing in Art Form observes "At once old-school and free-form, classic and avant-garde, the great Taiwanese filmmaker's first venture itno wuxia is the only movie I saw this year that, as soon as it ended, I wanted to see again."

Set in ninth century China during the decline of the Tang Dynasty, The Assassin picks up with Yinniang (Qi Shu), a trained martial arts practitioner who lives in the country with a nun who abducted her as a child. She is sent back to murder a military leader, a distant relative who she was once promised as a bride. The plot essentially separates from the narrative after the opening. Or as Jess Cataldo notes in Slant Magazine "the film carves out a rich emotional sphere concomitant to its stunning production design, finding delicate poetry in the dispassionate pursuit of revenge."

Or as Geoff Andrew in Sight and Sound writes "Hou constantly makes us feel almost as if we're watching something we've never seen before."

Winner of 5 major awards at The Golden Horse Film Festival and ranking 3rd on IndieWire's end of year Critic's Poll, The Assassin was also honored with the FIPRESCI Prize at the Palm Spring's International Film Festival in addition to a host of other nominations including the BAFTA Film Awards and Toronto Film Critics Circle among others. The film boasts a Meta Score of 80.

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