Anthony's Film Review
House of Flying Daggers (2004)
A visually stunning martial arts film whose real focus is an intense love story...
House of Flying Daggers successfully blends martial arts action and romance, appealing to fans of either genre. That's the first thing the film gets right. The second thing it achieves is a stronger emphasis on romance. Instead of a half-and-half mixture, the film is two-fifths martial arts and three-fifths romance. This is not a bad thing at all, because you need real human conflict to drive any story. What is the point of fighting if you have nothing to fight over?
The film centers on three main characteres. Zhang Ziyi plays a blind dancer named Mei, who is in league with a gang known as the House of Flying Daggers. Andy Lau is Leo, a deputy for the Chinese government. Half-Chinese half-Japanese actor Takeshi Kaneshiro is Jin, another deputy who has a weakness for women. The story involves Leo arresting and imprisoning Mei and Jin breaking her free from prison. There is an interesting twist to this. Jin and Leo have developed a scheme where Jin pretends to be a rescuer for Mei. That way, when he helps her return to the Flying Daggers, Leo can lead an army to destroy this gang.
But things get complicated when Jin falls in love with Mei. Now, if you think that's a nice twist, just wait. There are many more to come, and I will leave them for you to discover. What I will say is that the romance portrayed is fiery and passionate, essentially a steamy soap opera. At the same time, any hope for a happy ending might be short-lived. The story soon takes a different turn and heads in the direction of a romantic tragedy.
As for the martial arts action, it's as good as you'd expect. There is use of slow-motion and special effects that create the illusion of the camera following a fast-traveling arrow or dagger. The action scenes take place primarily in the wilderness, including a grass field and a bamboo forest. If you really want a beautifully choreographed action scene, pay attention to the scene with Leo watching Mei dance in a circle of drums. It starts out as an exquisite dance sequence that seamlessly transitions into a thrilling swordfight. The best action scene of all is the last one before the movie ends.
House of Flying Daggers is simply a beautifully made film. It delivers excitement in action and romance, both separately and simultaneously, and captivates the audience. The cast members are great but so is their director, Zhang Yimou. He blends the story, dialogue, and action perfectly against the backdrop of 9th-century China. The result is a foreign film with universal appeal. Moviegoers in China and the rest of the world alike will fall in love with House of Flying Daggers.
For more information about House of Flying Daggers, visit the Internet Movie Database.