Worth seeing for the cinematography alone.
Colin Covert, Minneapolis Star Tribune, 2015-11-19
The visuals relegate the acting to secondary importance. They overwhelm the story. And they make "The Assassin" unforgettable.
Soren Anderson, Seattle Times, 2015-11-05
It's so elliptical in its approach that there's no love for anyone, or anything, outside of beauty. It can be admired - greatly, even - but it can't be felt.
Barbara VanDenburgh, Arizona Republic, 2015-10-29
It's not for everyone. But if you think it's for you - if you believe that beauty is its own reward - find the biggest canvas on which to behold this movie that you possibly can. It's IMAX for aesthetes.
Ty Burr, Boston Globe, 2015-10-29
Although Hou Hsiao-Hsien's The Assassin is technically a wuxia film - martial arts, swordplay, the whoosh of arrows in flight - it is much more a film of stillness, quiet, beauty.
Steven Rea, Philadelphia Inquirer, 2015-10-29
As with Wong Kar-wai's "The Ashes of Time," Hou's take on the martial-arts flick is affectionate, but may frustrate fans of the genre. "The Assassin" is a mood piece, evoking rather than explaining.
Mark Jenkins, Washington Post, 2015-10-29
Hou's kinetic yet serene approach to martial arts is like watching a fast-moving river. It's less about the plot and body count and more about contemplating a story rich in symbols and multiple meanings.
Peter Howell, Toronto Star, 2015-10-29
Not for everyone, but gloriously cinematic, utterly absorbing.
John Anderson, Newsday, 2015-10-22
Hou's brand of reserve might not be for all audiences, but arthouse admirers of cinematic stillness will find themselves enraptured by this hypnotic tale.
Alonso Duralde, TheWrap, 2015-10-15
Combining Hou's patient, observant style with a historical martial arts tale, the film is a fascinating hybrid of craft, genre and story.
Mark Olsen, Los Angeles Times, 2015-10-15
With and without allegory, to watch The Assassin is to be carried along in the river of life, in all its ecstasy and terror.
Ella Taylor, NPR, 2015-10-15
So ravishingly lovely that tracking the plot is far less important than luxuriating in the images.
Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal, 2015-10-15
The story promises action, but this brooding martial-arts adventure from Hou Hsiao-hsien is largely a pictorial experience.
J. R. Jones, Chicago Reader, 2015-10-15
The Assassin is one of the most flat-out beautiful movies of the last decade, and also one of the most puzzling.
Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, AV Club, 2015-10-15
Hou Hsiao-hsien's historical drama, set in ninth-century China, fuses political struggles and family grudges into images of a sumptuous stillness, which he punctuates with spasms of extravagant martial artistry.
Richard Brody, New Yorker, 2015-10-12
If The Assassin is sometimes agonisingly slow, it's also agonisingly well-crafted, and it's an agony that regularly tips into ecstasy as Hou allows us to be lost in the period, people and places he offers us.
Dave Calhoun, Time Out, 2015-05-28
"The Assassin" is gorgeous to look at, but not all that compelling to watch.
Adam Graham, Detroit News, 2016-01-15
Part of the problem is Hou's style works at odds with the material.
G. Allen Johnson, San Francisco Chronicle, 2015-11-02
The Assassin is like some stereotypical beauty - gorgeous, but frustratingly incapable of prolonged conversation.
Kate Taylor, Globe and Mail, 2015-10-30
The film is intriguing, but ultimately opaque, a lovely, inert object that offers, in the name of movie love, an escape from so much that is vital and interesting about movies.
A.O. Scott, New York Times, 2015-10-15