MACAO (AFP) - A movie about a highly-trained female assassin swept the Asian Film Awards in Macau on Thursday, bagging prizes for best film, best actress and best director at the glittering ceremony.
The movie took home more than half of the night's prizes - eight out of 15 trophies - at one of Asia's leading film awards held in the glamorous casino town in southern China.
Set in the Tang Dynasty era in China, The Assassin is a slow-burning minimalist movie with Taiwanese megastar Shu Qi playing a skilled female assassin sent back to her home province to kill its governor, who is also the man she loves.
"I'm so lucky this year," Shu, wearing a sparkling silver dress, told reporters after receiving the best actress award.
"I couldn't have made it through the two years of production for 'The Assassin' without (the help of) bandages and medicine," quipped 39-year-old Shu, referring to the gruelling physical demands required for the action sequences.
Chinese actress Zhou Yun grabbed best supporting actress for her performance in the film, which she said was a "surprise".
"I won the award because the movie is so good, I contributed just a small part of all the impressive aspects (of the movie)," Zhou said.
The film is directed by Taiwan's Hou Hsiao-hsien, who sticks to his trademark aesthetic that won him fame for previous titles Millennium Mambo and The Puppetmaster.
The 68-year-old, who did not attend the ceremony, is one of the most recognisable names in Taiwan's New Wave cinema.
He has won a string of international awards, including best director at the Cannes Film Festival in May for The Assassin.
Though The Assassin dominated the night, others didn't go home empty-handed.
South Korean star Lee Byung-hun won best actor for his role in political thriller The Inside Men.
"Today's result is very good... I am very emotional about everybody's support," Lee told reporters.
Chinese romance film Mountains May Depart won the award for best screenplay, while India's Bajirao Mastani, a love story about a general and a Muslim princess, won best visual effects.
Hong Kong action choreographer Yuen Wo-ping, who worked on films such as The Matrix, Kill Bill and Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon was given this year's lifetime achievement award. Veteran Japanese actress Kirin Kiki was also given the prize.
French actress Sophie Marceau attended the ceremony to hand out the best actress award, to Shu's delight.
"I'm very happy to be on the stage to hug Sophie," best actress Shu said.
The awards were organised by the Hong Kong International Film Festival and were hosted at Macau's glitzy Venetian resort this year, the show's 10th instalment.
LIST OF WINNERS
Best editing: Port of Call/Hong Kong
Best cinematography: The Assassin/Hong Kong, China, Taiwan
Best supporting actress: Zhou Yun (The Assassin)/Hong Kong, China, Taiwan
Best visual effects: Bajirao Mastani/India
Best sound: The Assassin/Hong Kong, China, Taiwan
Best original music: The Assassin/Hong Kong, China, Taiwan
Best screenplay: Mountains May Depart/France, Japan, China
Best supporting actor: Asano Tadanobu (Journey to the Shore)/France, Japan
Best costume design: The Throne/South Korea
Best production design: The Assassin/Hong Kong, China, Taiwan
Best newcomer: Jessie Li (Port of Call)/Hong Kong
Best actress: Shu Qi (The Assassin)/Hong Kong, China, Taiwan
Best actor: Lee Byung-hun (Inside Men)/South Korea
Best director: Hou Hsiao-hsien (The Assassin)/Hong Kong, China, Taiwan
Best film: The Assassin/Hong Kong, China, Taiwan
Lifetime achievement award: Kirin Kiki and Yuen Wo-ping