In the article, ““We Just Did Long Takes Every Time”: Hou Hsiao-hsien on The Assassin” from filmmakermagazine.com, it is discussed that director Hou Hsiao-Hsien uses the cinematography in The Assassin to really tell the story. It’s not really a secret that The Assassin does not have a completely coherent plot, and that added on top of the average person not having an extensive knowledge of the Tang Dynasty, The Assassin is a bit of a complex movie to follow. However, Hsiao-hsien’s close work with director of photography, Mark Lee, led to some beautifully mastered scenes throughout the movie.
As the title of the article suggests, Hsiao-Hsien and Lee took long shots of almost every scene in the movie unless it was absolutely necessary to change it up (i.e., the fight scenes since the actors/actresses were not classically trained fighters). Most of the changes in depth were done in post production because Hsiao-Hsien and Lee felt that the long shot was the best possible shot for the entire movie and wanted to have that footage for almost every shot.
Hsaio-Hsien also did not want to do injustice to the scenery and locations they shot on, so barely any filters were used throughout post production, and what you see in the long shot is what you get in the long shot.