8th 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.
Ya, what to say about this one? You know Orca ain’t one shy of words or short on opinion. And you know she loves to blare it out loud and clear for everyone to hear. No filters, no dancing around the pudding. But nie-yin-niang left me utterly speechless and confused. Or let’s rather say it was me leaving the movie after roundabout half an hour. Ok, I’d never do so in a theater but in the comfort of my own home it was quite easy just stopping the good old VLC and doing something different.
Why? Jeez, some wannabe movie critic I am, just walking out … but still writing an opinion piece about it. Ya, I know I’m terrible. Fact is, yes, let me start by giving you some facts, so fact is nie-yin-niang is probably one of the most visually appealing movies I’ve even seen. I could drown in the cinematography. Another fact is that it’s the most boringestest film ever. Period! And that’s something, isn’t it? A boring kung-fu flick??? And the “swarm-intelligence” of IMDb seems to be torn in the middle as well. You don’t rate a movie like this a 6.4! You either love or hate it, there is no inbetween. So I guess the lukewarm 6.4 rating is the result of as many 10s as 1s.
Now I’m not one that is bored easily, I can tolerate a slow pace and just take in the atmosphere and cinematography of a movie. For hours if I got to. But if really nothing is happening, if all the characters stay sooo fukn cool you don’t even wanna know them, even Orca stops to care.
I mean Hsiao-Hsien Hou pulled all the right registers for an arthouse movie, he took an old folktale of China, he used all the camera tricks (black/white, format changes), he had a beautiful lead actress, it’s bound to be great material to grab all the medals at film festivals n stuff … and so it did, far as I know. But nie-yin-niang missed the most important part of any movie: It has no soul! It failed to entertain us, so we failed to endure this masterpiece for longer than half an hour.
CONCLUSION: Who knows, maybe with a different mindset I’d enjoy it more, and I’ll definately give it a second chance to blow my socks off … but for that I gotta wear socks in the first place, which I almost never do. And it will surely take some time before I’ll try to watch nie-yin-niang again. Because as of right now I’m not even closely in the right mind for that convoluted piece of filmmaking.
Okay, here are some trailers but you must promise me to not let them fool you into thinking this is an action movie. 😉
And one featurette: