Updated: 2012-06-04 15:23
The film, released in 2002, is directed by Zhang Yimou and is based on the history of Jing Ke's assassination attempt on the king of Qin in 227 BC.
During the end of the Warring States Period, the Qin state became the strongest, and the king of Qin, the target of many assassins, was ambitious to unify China. After an assassination incident three years before, the king of Qin had been living in terror and forbid any one closer than 100 paces to his throne.
One day, Nameless, a prefect of a small jurisdiction, visits the king of Qin, and claims that he has killed the assassins Long Sky, Flying Snow and Broken Sword and presents their weapons to the king. Nameless is then allowed to sit closer to the king and tell his story.
Nameless recounts that he killed Long Sky on a rainy day, in a chess house, after a fierce combat. Nameless is once again allowed to step 20 paces closer to the king.
Nameless tells of how he created a misunderstanding between Flying Snow and Broken Sword, and says that Long Sky asked him to give something to Flying Snow before being killed. When handing the object to Flying Snow, Nameless made Broken Sword jealous. He tells the king that, in the end, Broken Sword and Long Sky died one after another.
Eventually, Nameless gets much closer to the king of Qin, but suddenly the king of Qin says, "Nameless, you are lying", and begins to detail his doubt. He guesses that Nameless is also an assassin, and senses his intention to kill him. However, he wonders why the candle begins to sway, which indicates Nameless' hesitation.
Nameless admits everything. Three years ago, Broken Sword and Flying Snow joined hands to assassinate the king of Qin, but when they saw the king, Sword gave up. Snow resented Sword for three years because of this. As Nameless was also on his way to kill the king of Qin, Sword stopped him, and told him that, compared with world peace, personal animosity becomes insignificant. Only the king of Qin has the ability to unite the states to achieve peace, which is why Sword gave up his previous assassination attempt.
After the truth was told to the king, Nameless has to make the choice whether to kill the king or not. Finally, Nameless turns around and leaves. Thousands of arrows shoot at him and Nameless falls.
When Snow learns that Sword has convinced Nameless to give up the assassination, she gets furious and challenges Sword to a fight. Snow unintentionally kills him when Sword chooses not to defend himself. Overwhelmed by guilt, Snow then commits suicide.
At the end of the film, Nameless receives a hero's funeral and Long Sky chooses not to continue practicing Kung Fu in honor of his three dear friends.
The film has received extremely favorable reviews and hit a new box office record. Its spectacular scenes and exquisite images symbolize a hallmark of the commercialization of art.