Night of the Assassin (2023) Review

Worth a Watch


Night of the Assassin isn’t anything we haven’t seen before and the pacing in the first half is a little choppy, but the finale is suitably blood-soaked and there are enough fight scenes to keep you entertained.

Plot: After a deadly, long-dormant health condition surfaces during a mission, Joseon’s most lethal assassin goes into hiding to seek a cure without revealing his identity. But upon witnessing a ruthless campaign of terror against local villagers, the region’s deadliest killer comes out of retirement in order to exact his own brutal brand of vigilante justice.

Review: Night of the Assassin recently hit Hi-Yah! and it looked like it could be intriguing from the trailer. It stars Shin Hyun-joon as mysterious assassin Lee Nan who has been advised he can no longer practice martial arts due to a deadly heart condition. He decides to hang up his sword and he begins working with a single mother and her son at their restaurant. Things do not remain calm for long however, as soon bandits begin to appear and Lee Nan can only hold back for so long.

It starts off well with a few fight scenes to show Lee Nan’s skills then the pacing grinds to a halt as we spend a little too long at the restaurant with several unfunny moments. I understand it’s building up the characters and relationships but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t bored. You can also tell the film doesn’t have a huge budget due to CG blood and just a lack of flare to any of the visuals or battles.

Shin Hyun-joon plays the part well saying few words and letting his actions do the talking, so he’s easy to root for due to his sheer badassery.

The second half of the movie is easily superior as that’s when the action really kicks in and we get enough hacking and slashing to be worth the buildup. It’s very much open for a sequel too which I would watch as I really liked Lee Nan as a character and would like to see more of him and who it is that actually wants him dead. Let’s just hope it has a bigger budget as you can tell there are restraints here. I don’t want to be unfair as I’ve seen plenty of worse-looking films and this does exactly what it sets out to do but it’s not anything we haven’t seen before.

Overall, Night of the Assassin has some pacing issues and isn’t anything new but Shin Hyun-joon is suitably cool and badass to keep the viewer engaged. The second half has more action with plenty of fight scenes and a huge bodycount to make it worth a one-time watch at least.