In the year 198 BC, Cao Cao (Chow Yun Fat), Prime Minister of the Han Dynasty, ventured to the east and defeated China’s greatest warrior Lu Bu, terrifying every ambitious warlord across the country. Several years later, after taking the Han Emperor under his wing, Cao crowns himself King of Wei. He built a magnificent Bronze Sparrow Island to symbolize his power and rumors spread that he would replace the Emperor. Meanwhile, young lovers Mu Shun (Hiroshi Tamaki) and Ling Ju (Liu Yi-Fei) are taken from a prison camp to a hidden tomb, where they spend five cruel years together, training as assassins for a secret mission. In the year 220 BC astronomical signs predict dramatic change. As a result, Cao’s son Cao Pi (Yau Sam-Chi) and Cao’s followers urge Cao to become the new Emperor – but unknown opposing forces plot against him.
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. [Synopsis courtesy of Cannes Film Festival]
During China’s Tang dynasty the emperor has taken the princess of a neighboring province as wife. She has borne him two sons and raised his eldest. Now his control over his dominion is complete, including the royal family itself.