House of Flying Daggers

2004

House of Flying Daggers

Critics Consensus

The visual splendor of the movie makes up for the weak story.

88%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 172

82%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 217,811
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Movie Info

Chinese director Zhang Yimou fuses a martial arts action-drama with a tragic romance in this elegant period piece. In the year 859 A.D., as the Tang dynasty is beset by rebellion, Leo (Andy Lau) and Jin (Takeshi Kaneshiro) are a pair of lawmen who have been given the task of ferreting out the leaders of a revolutionary faction known as the Flying Daggers. Working on a tip that members of the group are working out of a brothel called the Peony Pavilion, Jin arrives there in disguise and is introduced to a beautiful blind dancer named Mei (Zhang Ziyi). After watching Mei's performance following several drinks, Jin drunkenly attempts to have his way with her, and Leo is forced to intervene. After gaining Mei's trust in a game of skill, Leo arrests her and informs her that she'll be tortured if she doesn't tell all she knows about the Flying Daggers. Jin responds by helping Mei break out of prison, but he has an ulterior motive -- by following her, Leo and Jin are certain she'll lead them to the Flying Daggers. However, as he helps the blind girl find her way back home, Jin finds himself falling in love with Mei, and isn't certain if he's willing to betray her again. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

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Critic Reviews for House of Flying Daggers

All Critics (172) | Top Critics (44)

  • A dazzler -- and almost as exciting as its title promises.

    Jan 14, 2005 | Rating: 4/5
  • One of the most visually astonishing martial-arts fantasies ever made.

    Jan 14, 2005 | Rating: 3.5/4
  • About as viscerally and visually exciting as film can get, and yet it is also fully, ripely romantic in a way that few modern films would dare.

    Jan 14, 2005 | Rating: A

    Tom Long

    Detroit News
    Top Critic
  • As stunning as it is, it also serves notice that House of Flying Daggers will have none of the complexities of Hero.

    Jan 14, 2005 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
    Detroit Free Press
    Top Critic
  • Zhang proves that Hero was no accident with House of Flying Daggers, another Chinese period piece resplendent with a dazzling palette and soaring, ambitious fight sequences.

    Jan 13, 2005 | Rating: 4.5/5
  • An intoxicating cocktail of splendid visuals, spectacular action, state-of-the-art computer-generated imagery and some old-fashioned swashbuckling worthy of Hollywood's Golden Age.

    Jan 13, 2005 | Rating: A-

Audience Reviews for House of Flying Daggers

  • Aug 15, 2017
    House of Flying Daggers is yet another visually arresting martial arts classic. Zhang Yimou really is one of the best directors of this genre (I also recommend you watch Hero). This is a tale of love, betrayal and, again, some damn good swordplay. We follow Mei who is a member of the Flying Daggers, a underground group plotting against the government, who gets arrested until she is freed by a mysterious figure where she soon starts to fall in love. This really was a tragic film. By the end, I was so emotionally invested that the final scenes just killed me inside. Like taking out my heart and stabbing it with a dagger...a flying dagger...*ahem*. Exploring the themes of love, it conveys the lengths we go to be with the one we truly love. Interestingly the majority of this film is actually set in a woods, varied by autumnal trees and bamboo. Both make for some great action scenes, particularly the bamboo forest ambush. Yimou's utilisation of colours creates some visually splendid landscapes, again the bamboo forest uses several shades of green, both in natural aspects and the characters' attire. The production design truly excelled within the Peony Pavilion, where the costume design was also fantastic. The Echo Game scenes were inventive and splendid to watch. Zhang Ziyi, who is one of my favourite Chinese actresses, exhumed elegance, innocence and a sense a badassery. Her choreography was already exquisite, but having to do that without actually looking at the opponent (due to her character being blind) really showcases mastery of the art. The love triangle was beautifully crafted and held a glimpse of tenderness. A few gripes, I found the CGI projectiles to be jarring and too frequent. The story is not as grand as other martial art epics so may not be particularly engaging for everyone. Also the betrayals that are revealed towards the end seemed too convenient and didn't really impact me. However, this is another solid Chinese wuxia flick with a tragic love story that definitely makes you emotionally invested.
    Luke A Super Reviewer
  • Aug 24, 2014
    This movie is beautiful to experience. The visuals are, in the most understated sense, magical. About 8 minutes I stopped caring about what was real and what was special effects, because everything just looked impossibly spectacular. The real feat of the movie is the sensual opera of sight and sound it created. The movement, color pallette and attention to detail is gorgeous. If I just watched all the action sequences without context, I would probably still be satisfied with the movie. The other aspects of the movie are just fair. The story may be formulaic, but there's nothing wrong with having a simple twisty plot. The only thing that really bothers me is that the film seems to be detached to its emotional center. The feelings of the characters are present, but they aren't discovered within their interaction or personalities, they just exist to be exposed and move the plot forward. This gets bothersome because a lot of time in the movie is given for us to try and accept these feelings, but in the end, we can't care genuinely enough for them to be concerned. Nonetheless, 'House of Flying Daggers' is a superb work of imagery. Is it worth watching again just to see pretty visuals? Certainly.
    Diego T Super Reviewer
  • Apr 23, 2013
    [img]http://images.rottentomatoes.com/images/user/icons/icon14.gif[/img]
    Directors C Super Reviewer
  • Apr 11, 2012
    What's this crap, not even artistic I am sorry. It's a terrible martial art film
    Sylvester K Super Reviewer

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