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Review of House of Flying Daggers

Posted by phduffy on 2005-01-26 22:43:07
6 forum posts
House of Flying Daggers is the new film by Yimou Zhang, the director of Hero.

The plot of the movie revolves around 9th Century China. We're told that the government is corrupt and about to fall. To speed its demise, a group calling themselves the "House of Flying Daggers" is stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. We find out that their last leader was killed by the government, leaving only a blind daughter behind.

Takeshi Kaneshiro plays one of two deputies government deputies (Jin). I have no idea who he is, but perhaps if I was more familiar with asian cinema I would be (Kaneshiro is Taiwanese, and I have no idea if he's usually in Taiwanese cinema or Hong Kong cinema - okay, a quick search of imdb says that he appears in Chinese, Taiwanese, and Japanese cinema).

The other two leads might be more familiar to Western audiences. Andy Lau plays Leo,the other government deputy. Lau if one of two co-stars of Infernal Affairs, one of the other excellent Hong Kong movies to see it's North American release this year. I'm not sure why, but I find it amusing that Zhang has released two movies in North America this year, each of which featured one of the two stars of Infernal Affairs. It's probably because they're two of the top actors in Chinese cinema, but I still find it funny. Oh yeah, Lau is also apparently some sort of pop star in China, which is weird, because it's pretty much inconceivable to imagine a North American pop star starring in a movie like House of Flying Daggers. Crossroads it ain't.

Finally, the third lead in the movie is Ziyi Zhang, perhaps most famous for her role in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. She plays Mei, the blind girl who's recently started working as a local dancer.

I won't go into too much detail about the plot, there's there love stories, action, role reversals and surprises...
With that said, this movie isn't on par with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. While it may be unfair, I think many movie goers will compare the two films. The pace of House of Flying Daggers is very uneven, and it alternates between scenes of interest, and scenes of collasal boredom. I wonder is Zhang has become so enamoured with the beauty in his works (and there's no denying that this film, along with Hero, are the two most beautiful looking films this year), that he forgets about moving the film along, or doesn't think it's important.

Additionally, while this is a serious movie, even the most serious of movies can use some levity. This movie has none, it's all seriousness, or flirtatious bits, but no actualy moments of comedy.

I also wonder if perhaps I'm too stupid to get some of Zhang's movies. Is there a significance to the colours present in this film, or are they just there to seem pretty? I can understand some of the significance of the changing seaons, but is there more to it?

Finally, this movie seems to forget to reveal some important details at the end. While I realize that the movie is about Leo, Jin and Mei, and not really about the House of Flying Daggers and the government, I would have appreciated some explanation of the ending. Even a voice over about how things ended up. There was at least one other mystery that was presented during the film that was never answered. If he wasn't intending to answer it, Zhand shouldn't have made it a mystery.

Regarldess, despite those reservations, House of Flying Daggers is a solid movie. I'd say a 6.5, maybe 7 our of 10.

FOR THE CHILDREN!
At this time in China, young girls were recruited to work as 'dancers', which essentially means whore!
  6 forum posts