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Rating History

House of Flying Daggers
12 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

I finally got around to seeing this last night after a couple failed attempts. Walking out of the cinema, I wasn't quite sure what I thought of it. The pacing was a bit off as many of the scenes lingered a little too long for my tastes, but the action scenes were exciting and well choreographed. The story itself was enjoyable but a little overblown. The many twists/reveals were each believable in of themselves, but it felt as though the writer was trying to cram in as many as he could, and managed to fit in a few too many.

The acting was well done, particularly on the part of [url=""]Takeshi Kaneshiro[/url], who I thought played his part superbly, bringing an emotional depth to a role that could easily have fallen flat in the hands of a lesser actor. The others held their own as well, although I must say I'm starting to get sick of seeing [url=""]Zhang Ziyi[/url] every one of these movies. It's not that I think she was miscast and her performance certainly didn't offend me, but it feels as though she's been in every major asian import since Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. I know that some directors like to reuse actors and that's fine, but I think she's beginning to get a little over exposed.

As far as cinematography goes the movie was beautifully shot, if not what I'd expected. For some reason I was anticipating something more along the lines of Hero, with heavy doses of color and symbolism. But I was pleased that the director didn't repeat himself and instead astounded us with beautiful, and sometimes breath-taking scenery. The use of color was still there, but it was much more subtle.

Overall I thought it was enjoyable if a little disappointing. Would I recommend that people go see it? If you are a fan of Hero or Crouching Tiger, then yes by all means. Hero is a bit better overall in my opinion, but it's still worth the price of admission. If however you have an extremely low tolerance for wire-work or are expecting an all-out action-fest, then perhaps not. There isn't as much high-flying, laugh in the face of physics acrobatics as in Hero, but it's still there, most notably in the bamboo forest chase scene. As for the action, the movie focuses more on the characters and their journey/love triangle. The action is there and well done, but you aren't bombarded with it like you might expect of a more tradional martial arts flick.