Qi Shu as The Assassin
Chinese “Assassin” in Lake Worth and Fort Lauderdale
By Skip Sheffield
In the mood for some exotic? How about an elaborate 8th century Chinese costume drama?
“Assassin” is a beautiful, brutal and baffling martial arts film that doubles as a drama about courage, family, loyalty and revenge. The closest theaters to us are the Lake Worth Playhouse and Cinema Paradiso.
Based on a short story written during the Tang Dynasty, “Assassin” tells the tale of Nie Yinniang (Qi Shu) who was kidnapped by a nun as a 10year-old girl and trained in martial arts, swordsmanship and special skills to use any item at hand as a weapon. It is the 8th century. The Tang Dynasty (618-807), considered to be the high point in Chinese civilization, is in decline. Weibo Province to the north has emerged the strongest province. After 13 years in exile, Nie has been ordered by a provincial General to assassinate his political rival, Lord Tian Ji’an (Chen Chang).
The trip to Weibo is perilous. Nie is ambushed but she fights back fiercely, killing rivals and displaying her balletic martial arts skills. Instead of assassinating her target, Nie becomes so enamored with him she decides to join forces. This evidently challenges the balance of power and threatens the stability of the whole region.
This plot description may not be entirely correct, for “Assassin” is indeed mystic and baffling to American eyes. What it is for sure is its amazing sensory experience: exquisitely beautiful visually and aurally, with sumptuous costumes, exotic dances and musical instruments, folk singing, hard-charging horseback riding, majestic scenery and of course impressive, meticulously choreographed fight scenes that are almost like dances. The dialogue is in Mandarin Chinese with English subtitles.