The movie adapted from the Tang Dynasty short story legend "Nie Yin Niang" (聶隱娘), directed by Hou Hsiao Hsien has premiered in the 2015 Cannes Film Festival and sounds like there's a lot of good reviews coming in from the critics. Shu Qi is the main actress (ugh...so far that's like 5 or 6 of my favorite wuxia related characters or films acted by her...but hey, she has a whole load of film awards, so...)
According to reports, there are only 9 sentences of spoken dialogue in the film. So at least no suffering the pain of hearing SQ talk
I heard there was a love story in it though, which is completely unlike the original story. So although I like Hou Hsiao-hsien, I'm worried about this one. That story was the first thing I ever translated, so it's kind of special to me, and I wonder how faithful this adaptation could be (it's a weird story).
Although I must say I love the little clip you posted. Just two minutes, yet it's clear how talented Hou Hsiao-hsien is.
9th century China. 10-year-old general's daughter Nie Yinniang is abducted by a nun who initiates her into the martial arts, transforming her into an exceptional assassin charged with eliminating cruel and corrupt local governors. One day, having failed in a task, she is sent back by her mistress to the land of her birth, with orders to kill the man to whom she was promised - a cousin who now leads the largest military region in North China. After 13 years of exile, the young woman must confront her parents, her memories and her long-repressed feelings. A slave to the orders of her mistress, Nie Yinniang must choose: sacrifice the man she loves or break forever with the sacred way of the righteous assassins.
Yup. Only the first half seems to be similar, then it starts to derive from the original. I guess there won't be shortswords hidden in their heads either, nor the other supernatural elements.
I hope we at least get to see the stuff that dissolves the bodies to water, and also the "paper" donkeys. But it is disappointing about her husband. I think it's a significant part of the original story that she unsentimentally chooses a lowly mirror polisher well below her status as her husband--without going through a matchmaker or getting her father's permission. And there is nothing really righteous about her job in the original either, where she is scolded for not killing immediately because of a kid. And we only had the nun's word for it whether or not the targets were really bad people, and she chooses who to serve based on who she thinks deserves it (key attribute of the xia).
The original is just a more interesting story. But we'll see, it might very well be great movie, Hou Hsiao-hsien does great work, I just might have to pretend it's a separate story and not an adaptation.
yenchin : since you're familiar with Taiwanese actresses then I think I addressed the right question to you : is Shu Qi got lip reduction surgery or something? Lately she looks much good looking compare to many years ago where she had big wide mouth and lips.
LOL Not sure. Based on this report it seems that there might've been some modification. But of course if asked actresses usually deny and probably say something with the keyword(s) "just makeup" "adjusted my teeth".....etc
The official trailer is out now. It opens in China 8/27, in Taiwan 8/28. I just ordered a book about the filming of it, written by one of the screenwriters. This book also contains the screenplay. I'll let you know how it is when it arrives. From this trailer it is clear the film does not follow the original story closely at all, but I have faith in Hou Hsiao-hsien as director.
So I just saw the film. It's pretty good. I'll have a full review after next week when I go to see it again. It's definitely a Hou Hsiao-hsien film (slow, long shots, subtle emotions). The landscapes in this film are absolutely gorgeous. It's not your average wuxia movie, that's for sure. Fights are few and fast, more realistic than I expected. I suspect if you don't already know the film's story (I had read it already in some books published recently about the film) then there will probably be some confusing spots as the plot is a bit convoluted, though the important backstory is told via dialogue (a little too much in my opinion), and the emotions of the characters lie just below the surface (definitely isn't a melodramatic film). If you like Hou Hsiao-hsien's work then you will like this one as well. If you don't like slow films that focus on visuals, then you might be bored by it. I plan to go see it again Monday.
Five year after it debuted, I have finally seen this movie. However, my enjoyment of it was ruined by me setting the contrast level too high. For some reason, the highlights were mostly blown. I even wondered if it were Hou Hsiao Hsien's aesthetic choice. Switching to another player, the film looked fine to me. By then, I have finished the movie. I know, it's all my fault.
I agree with everything JohnD said.
Nominally a wuxia film, it is really more of a period drama with some fight scenes. The movie is good—somewhat slow, deliberate and meditative, but raptly shot by its cinematographer. The plot is quite different from the actual short story. One thing which may alienate viewers is that its dialogues are largely in Classical Chinese. Classical Chinese, being a reading language, is frustratingly opaque when spoken to a modern audience. My advice is to keep the subtitles on, whether Chinese or English. The English subtitles are excellent and I understood much of the story through them.
The story has some political background not in the original story. Shu Qi plays Nie Yinniang, but her character being stoic, she rightly plays her as an introvert. Flickers of emotions will light up her face now and then, but this is admittedly not a very meaty role for an actress. She has to keep a straight face most of the time. That said, her assassin skills are credible and realistic, without the bravura and ferocity of Crouching Tiger.
Camera movements are slow and discreet. Hou had decided to shoot this in 4:3 aspect, and although I would prefer 1.85:1, I can't say this aspect ratio detracts much from the movie. The prologue is in black and white. After Nie kills a few men, the colors return and the cinematography is a great highlight. It was shot by possibly Taiwan's best cinematographer, Mark Lee Ping-bing.
All in all, a handsome and sumptuous film, if a little opaque if you don't follow the dialogues. Definitely not fast-moving like, say, The Dark Knight. Hou is in his mettle here, although the script is good without being exciting. The script could have been even better, but the resulting film is quite recognizably a Hou Hsiao Hsien product.
I give it a 8/10.
If you can watch it, watch it to make up your own mind.