12.6 C
New York
Saturday, November 28, 2020
Advertisement

The Assassin (TheaterByte Blu-ray Review)

Stunning is the only word that keeps coming to mind when I think of director Hou Hsiaor-hsien’s slow-burning historical martial arts epic, The Assassin. The transcendent film, shot in the rare 1.37:1 aspect ratio with 2D-BD-Assassingorgeous cinematography from Lee Ping Bin is also lush with lavish set and costume designs. The occasional action sequence sets the screen alight, but these only dot the intense drama. At the center of the story is the beautiful Shu Qi (Tai Chi Hero, The Transporter) who plays the fearsome assassin Nie Yinniang in Tang Dynasty China. Abducted from her well decorated military general father as a child she was raised by a nun and trained to be a deadly assassin. After living in exile for 13 years, Yinniang is sent back to kill the man (Chen Chang, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) she was once betrothed to. She finds herself caught between love and hatred, two forms of loyalty as she tries to fulfill her duty to both her clan and her lover. Expansive yet also quiet and claustrophobic, The Assassin takes all the best elements of wuxia – the action, the dazzling cinematography, the period settings – and strips away some of the sillier parts. The result is something cerebral, almost nonlinear, and passionate. Hou doesn’t just play with the genre, he plays with filmmaking, starting in black and white, switching to color, shooting in the tight 1.37:1 frame, yet shooting one, beautifully colorful scene in 1.85:1. It’s almost as if he wants to say that the film, just like life, is random and unexpected, just as Yinniang’s journey in The Assassin takes her to some painfully unexpected places.

The Video

asassin-bluray-still-1

The Assassin was shot in Super 35 in the unusual (for today) aspect ratio of 1.37:1 and arrives on Blu-ray from Well Go USA in an almost flawless encodement. I say almost only because the darker colors sometimes tilt into slight crush and some details are lost. Apart from this minor (and it is minor) issue, the image looks beautiful, with rich colors and lots of texture and depth of field. The cinematography, as mentioned before, is so beautifully accomplished one hardly notices the smaller framing.

The Audio

assassin-bluray-still-2

The Mandarin DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack (a Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo track is included as well) is a masterpiece of subtlety and atmospherics. While the dialogue sometimes has a tad too much reverberation, the rest of this mix is beautifully balanced, but never in an aggressive way. The mix surrounds you in breezes rustling through trees, crickets and cicadas, the crackle of wood in fire, and the occasional clank of swords.

The Supplements

This is the area where The Assassin on Blu-ray disappoints, coming with only a few throwaway behind-the-scenes featurettes and a trailer.

  • Behind the Scenes
    • Nie Yinniang (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 00:03:11)
    • The Actors: No Rehearsals (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 00:03:45)
    • The Fights Between Masters (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 00:02:55)
    • A Time Machine to the Tang Dynasty (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 00:03:01)
    • Trailer (1.33:1; 1080p/24; 00:02:37)

The Final Assessment

The Assassin may be too slow for some people expecting the usual sort of high-flying, wuxia films that spin off into fanciful, nonstop action. For anyone looking for something more thoughtful and breathtaking to look at with incredibly passionate performances, then this is the film for you.

The Assassin is Taiwan’s entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the 88th Academy Awards, won Best Director (Hou) at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, and the Cannes Soundtrack Award for composer Lim Giong.

The Assassin (TheaterByte Blu-ray Review)
3.6 / 5 TheaterByte Rating
{{ reviewsOverall }} / 5 User Rating (0 votes)
Well Go USAStudios & Distributors
Hou Hsiao-HsienDirector
Ah Cheng, Chu T'ien-wen, et. al.Writer
106 Mins.Run Time
$29.98MSRP
26 Jan. 2016Release Date
1.37:1Aspect Ratio
AVCVideo
Mandarin DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1Audio
The Creative Content
The Video
The Audio
The Supplements
Summary
Hou Hsiao-hsien delivers a stunning martial arts epic with The Assassin.
What people say... Login to rate
Order by:

Be the first to leave a review.

User Avatar User Avatar
Verified
{{{ review.rating_title }}}
{{{review.rating_comment | nl2br}}}

This review has no replies yet.

Avatar
Show more
Show more
{{ pageNumber+1 }}

Advertisement

Related Articles

TheaterByte’s Holiday Gift Guide for 2020

Let’s focus on the donut here: BEST Home Entertainment Holiday EVER.

The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy (4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review)

A stunning 4K Ultra HD restoration of The Lord of the Rings Trilogy arrives.

My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising (Blu-ray Review)

An excellent entry (or farewell?) for this beloved franchise with lots of action and great animation.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Stay Connected

301FansLike
0FollowersFollow
723FollowersFollow
- Advertisement -

Notice of Compliance with FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION 16 CFR Part 255

In accordance with the Federal Trade Commission 16 CFR part 255 guidelines, this website hereby states that it receives free discs and other theatrical or home entertainment “screeners” and access to screening links from studios and/or PR firms, and is provided with consumer electronics devices on loan from hardware manufacturers and/or PR firms respectively for the purposes of evaluating the products and its content for editorial reviews. We receive no compensation from these companies for our opinions or for the writing of reviews or editorials.
Permission is sometimes granted to companies to quote our work and editorial reviews free of charge. Our website may contain affiliate marketing links, which means we may get paid commission on sales of those products or the services we write about. Our editorial content is not influenced by advertisers or affiliate partnerships. This disclosure is provided in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR § 255.5: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Latest Articles

TheaterByte’s Holiday Gift Guide for 2020

Let’s focus on the donut here: BEST Home Entertainment Holiday EVER.

The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy (4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review)

A stunning 4K Ultra HD restoration of The Lord of the Rings Trilogy arrives.

My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising (Blu-ray Review)

An excellent entry (or farewell?) for this beloved franchise with lots of action and great animation.

Train to Busan Presents: Peninsula (Blu-ray Review)

This is an uneven but still fun to watch sequel to the 2016 smash hit zombie/action movie lands on Blu-ray with a rollicking Atmos mix.

Chernobyl (4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review)

The account of the 1986 Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant disaster in Ukraine, Soviet Union, and the subsequent health and political fallout is told in five gripping episodes.
%d bloggers like this: