TAIPEI - The Assassin by director Hou Hsiao-hsien became the biggest winner last night at the 52nd Golden Horse Awards, bagging five awards including Best Director and Best Feature Film.
The Assassin had led the field with 11 nominations for the awards held at the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall in downtown Taipei.
Set in ninth-century China, The Assassin is a slow-burning minimalist movie with Taiwanese megastar Shu Qi playing a highly trained female assassin sent back to her home province to kill its governor, who is also the man she loves.
Shu Qi was nominated for Best Leading Actress, but she lost out to Hong Kong actress Karena Lam, who won the award for her role in Zinnia Flower.
Lam plays a woman struggling to cope after her fiance is killed in a car accident.
Feng Xiaogang, a renowned director from China, won the Best Leading Actor award for his performance in the film Mr Six.
He plays an ageing gangster in the action-comedy.
Judges praised the craftsmanship of Hou, whose The Assassin also won the Best Director gong at the Cannes Film Festival in May.
They said his "unique techniques have revitalised the genre of martial arts films".
"I haven't won the best director award in a long time. I would like to thank my crew," said the 68-year-old director, who received the award from Oscar-winning director Ang Lee and Shu Qi.
Hou was also named Outstanding Taiwanese Film-maker of the Year.
He is a leading figure in Taiwan's "New Wave" cinema movement, which began in the 1980s.
The movement is characterised by realistic and sympathetic portrayal of Taiwanese life - a stark contrast to the gong fu action movies and melodramas of earlier decades, according to Central News Agency.
List of winners at the 52nd Golden Horse film awards in Taiwan:
Best Feature Film: The Assassin
Best Director: Hou Hsiao-hsien (The Assassin)
Best Leading Actor: Feng Xiaogang (Mr Six)
Best Leading Actress: Karena Lam (Zinnia Flower)
Best Supporting Actor: Michael Ning (Port of Call)
Best Supporting Actress: Lu Xue-feng (Thanatos, Drunk)
Best New Director: Bi Gan (Kaili Blues)
Best New Performer: Lee Hong-chi (Thanatos, Drunk)
Best Original Screenplay: Jia Zhang-ke (Mountains May Depart)
Best Screenplay Adaptation: Pema Tseden (Tharlo)
Best Cinematography: Mark Lee Ping-bing (The Assassin)
Best Visual Effects: Wook Kim (The Taking of Tiger Mountain 3D)
Best Animation Feature: McDull: Me & My Mum
Best Art Direction: William Chang, Alfred Yau (Office)
Best Makeup/Costume Design: Hwarng Wern-ying (The Assassin)
Best Action Choreography: Xu Haofeng (The Master)
Best Film Editing: Chang Tso-chi (Thanatos, Drunk)
Best Original Film Music: Lin Shangde, Tseng Yun-fang (Thanatos, Drunk)
Best Original Film Song: Aka Pisawad (Wawa No Cidal)
Best Sound Effects: Tu Duu-chih, Chu Shih-yi, Wu Shu-yao (The Assassin)
Best Documentary: The Chinese Mayor
Best Short Film: Cheng Wei-hao (The Death Of A Security Guard)
Outstanding Taiwanese Filmmaker of the Year: Hou Hsiao-hsien
Lifetime Achievement Award: Li Lihua