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Lunch » Tags » Movies » Reviews » House of Flying Daggers » User review

Visual Splendor for a Touching Romance

  • Apr 22, 2005
  • by
Rating:
+5
When the neighborhood movie houses seem to have an overwhelming number of martial arts films, both takeoffs on 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon' quality and the 'Matrix' clone dalliances, and when the whole concept of mind-boggling flying armed forms threatens to become passé, along comes another film by Yimou Zhang and the atmosphere changes.

Zhang fully understands the choreographic possibilities if this genre of films and surpasses his fellow directors with his sensitivity to story. Yes, HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS has more special effects than can be listed here, but FINALLY the special effects embroider a tender love triangle in the year 859 AD at the core of the dissolution of the Tang Dynasty. Mei (Ziyi Zhang) is the daughter of the deceased leader of a dissident group called House of Flying Daggers, and posing as a dancer in the Peony Pavilion, seeks to kill the captain of the Tang army Jin (Takeshi Kaneshiro). Under surveillance, both Mei and Jin are captured by loyalist Leo (Andy Lau) and while both escape, imprints of the two men and one woman have been set and the resulting chase leads to much action, fighting, and ultimate entanglement of the three in a tender and pathetic love triangle. How this resolves is the basis for the very supernatural ending.

The story is sound and amazingly credible due to the fine acting by the trio. But the real glories of this symphonic excursion are the lush colors, magnificent costumes, the exquisite choreography of dance and martial arts, and the breathtaking camera work observing the forests and glens in the richest colors of autumn and winter. Simply stated, this film is dazzling and brilliantly conceived and executed.

An additional factor in the film is the musical score by Shigeru Umebayashi interspersed with old Chinese songs played on authentic instruments. On the DVD there is a music video that features Kathleen Battle singing the main song, and while the song and the video are not remarkable, it is a pleasure to see that Kathleen Battle is still singing and, though somewhat older in appearance, still lovely of face and voice. The additional DVD features of the making of the film are far above average, especially Zhang's story of how the unexpected early snow during the shooting encouraged him to utilize this miracle of nature and indeed supply some of the more beautiful scenes in the film. Grady Harp, April 05

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More House of Flying Daggers reviews
Quick Tip by . November 10, 2010
posted in ASIANatomy
Definitely a lot more entertaining and interesting than Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Then again, I'm both a fan of Takeshi Kaneshiro and Andy Lau. So, what can I say? ;-) In terms of artistic impression, this one is great! If you're a big fan of Zhang Yimou's movie, this is one of his best. I actually prefer his direction in the Olympics 2008 Opening Ceremony than many of his recent movies!
review by . April 29, 2009
I can't say enough about how perfect this movie was made. It was like the director perfected every still with camera angles, "Matrix" effects, and rich colors. I had previously seen Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon and Hero and those movies seem like experiments that have led up to this perfection of a movie.     Two police officers are told that they have only a short time (I think it was 10 days) to catch or kill the leader of the Flying Daggers an apparent gang that is the enemy …
review by . November 17, 2008
The only similarity between this movie and "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon", is the breathtaking choreography of the aerial combat amongst the bamboo trees. Indeed, the best sequences in "House of Flying Daggers" begin with some quietly and gracefully pirouetting bamboo leaves, falling dramatically towards the lush green forest floor.     Totally different from "Hero" plot wise, the vivid use of color, light and fabric ties the two together, bringing Chinese action movies to …
review by . October 03, 2006
The very first time I saw this amazing film I was wrapped around its finger. Everything about it is perfect from its scenery to the perfectly paced and executed fight scenes. After the first time you see it the more and more you watch it the more you notice little things that are big. Basically the things that made the film beautiful start to unravel. One thing I hate that I am seeing a lot of is the digital blood, so when someone is hit with one of the daggers it looks computer generated when the …
review by . June 09, 2005
posted in Movie Hype
I can't say enough about how perfect this movie was made. It was like the director perfected every still with camera angles, "Matrix" effects, and rich colors. I had previously seen Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon and Hero and those movies seem like experiments that have led up to this perfection of a movie.    Two police officers are told that they have only a short time (I think it was 10 days) to catch or kill the leader of the Flying Daggers an apparent gang that is the enemy …
review by . April 25, 2005
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: Good story telling, beautifully shoot film, outstanding performances.      Cons: Ended too soon.     The Bottom Line: House of Flying Daggers is a visual and emotional treat.      Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie''s plot. In the West among the more common folk (and let’s face it, the not-so-common folk as well) China and its vast, long, and proud history, remains a mysterious land wrapped in a shroud …
About the reviewer
Grady Harp ()
Ranked #97
Grady Harp is a champion of Representational Art in the roles of curator, lecturer, panelist, writer of art essays, poetry, critical reviews of literature, art and music, and as a gallerist. He has presented … more
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About this movie

Wiki

House of Flying Daggers (Chinese埋伏pinyinshí miàn mái fú), is a 2004 action-romance filmdirected by Zhang YimouHouse of Flying Daggers differs from other wuxia films in that it is more of a love story than a straight martial arts film.

The use of strong colours is again a signature of Zhang Yimou's work. Several scenes in a bamboo forest completely fill the screen with green. Near the end of the film, a fight scene is set in a blizzard. The actors and blood are greatly highlighted on a whiteout background. Another scene uses bright yellow as a colour theme. The costumes, props, and decorations were taken almost entirely from Chinese paintings of the period, adding authenticity to the look of the film.

The film opened in limited release within the United States on December 3, 2004, in New York and Los Angeles, and opened on additional screens throughout the country two weeks later.

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Details

Director: Zhang Yimou
Genre: Action, Adventure
Release Date: December 3, 2004
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 1hr 59min
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