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Complex love story told with tender romance and riveting martial arts!
Zhang Yimou's romance epic House of Flying Daggers (2004) is a masterpiece of stunning natural backdrops, ancient Chinese setting, lavish costumes, saturated colors, and intricate choreography. Yimou's direction keeps you empathizing with his characters instead of the larger political motivations. In doing so, House of Flying Daggers is transformed into a radiant display of passionate film-making and acting. The whole narrative is fixed perspective on 3 characters instead of the massive scope of Yimou's other martial arts epic Hero (2002).
The combat is as compelling as the dialogue and dances. The first dance performed in the brothel is captivating as is the chase through the bamboo forest and the fight in the flower field. These main sequences are mesmerizing to look at Yimou's stylized direction, Zhao Xiaoding's subtle cinematography, all set to Shigeru Umebayashi's romantic score. The dreamy music weaves around the air like the daggers thrown by master assassins in House of Flying Daggers. All these aspects culminate in a phenomenal film.
Zhang Ziyi plays a very complex role as assassin Xiao Mei. She has to fight, dance, and act all while pretending to be blind. Then, Ziyi fights, loves, and cries with a devastating passion. She is radiant in the brilliant natural sunlight captured in House of Flying Daggers. I love her as an actress and she demonstrates her acting prowess and martial arts skills simultaneously.
Takeshi Kaneshiro's Wind/Jin and Andy Lau's Leo are fantastic fighters, especially in the prairie fight. They deliver incredible performances as love interests for Mei as well as foils. Their belief in their characters' feelings makes their roles realistic.
In all, House of Flying Daggers will surely dazzle kung fu fans seeking fast paced action sequences and impressive effects. However, its peak as a great film is in its character development and drama building a compelling romance over the course of its run-time.
House of Flying Daggers is certainly a bit too soapy in its love triangle third act, but it's still well acted, reliably greatly directed by Zhang Yimou and beautifully scored as well. There are two main reasons to watch this film: one is of course the action as all of the fights in the film are beautifully choreographed and hugely entertaining and another is certainly its aesthetic as Yimou once again brings a lot of artistic flair to the picture with the bamboo sequence being particularly arresting and the use of the color green being gorgeous.
Misogyny wrapped up in pretty cinematography.
The central idea of this movie is that a single attractive woman can ruin an entire city or nation. Yeah, that's about a perfect 10 out of 10 on the misogyny scale. Some people mistakenly see this as a love story. Ha ha -- that's hilariously incorrect. Two guys fall for one woman and they are all ruined as a result. That's love? Yeah, I know Dateline never runs out of stories of husbands killing their wives, wives killing their husbands, boyfriends killing their girlfriends, or girlfriends killing their boyfriends, so maybe it is love. But is it all the woman's fault? Don't men bear some responsibility? In this movie, don't Leo and Jin bear some responsibility for their fates or is it all Mei's fault?
To compound this film's misogynistic viewpoint, the initially innocuous Mei turns out to be the very picture of duplicity. She tricks Jin into thinking she's just some whore. She tricks him into thinking she's blind -- what a devious, conniving bitch! She tricks Jin into thinking she's the daughter of the leader of the Flying Daggers. Women are all deceitful, see?
Furthermore, Leo has been waiting for Mei for three years only to lose her to Jin after only three days. Women are disloyal, see? Women are so capricious they will leave you for some other guy after no time at all, see? Whores! Sluts!
Additionally, the writers of this film have such a low opinion of women that they make Mei fall for Jin shortly after he tries to rape her. Apparently, women are so airheaded, slutty, and immoral that they would fall in love with their own would-be rapists.
The "love" in this movie never even rises to the level of tepid. The "love" is quite cold indeed -- both guys get led on by cock-teaser Mei only to get cock-blocked by her. Heh heh. The obvious message here is that women are cock-teases AND cock-blockers. And if you fall for one, it will be your downfall.
This is not a love story -- this is a misogyny story.
Pretty colors. Blobbo like.
One of the best work of Chinese cinema. Where art, love and adventure almost embrace each other to become one.
All I knew about this movie was that the action is supposed to be meticulous and beautiful. What I didn't know is so is the story. A twisting, hidden-identities, romantic intrigue twist on the Robin Hood drama, it's a vibrant and beautiful marriage of wonderfully written melodrama and breathtakingly cool excitement...with some truly terrible CGI.
The story is a bit forced in having a twist, over a twist, over a twist but is still a specular experience.
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.
Beautifully shot, great opening scene.
As the movie progresses, it becomes more dramatic and opera-like, I expected much more.
Another artistic screenplay movie from Zhang Yimou.