House of Flying Daggers
Why are all the pretty girls so much trouble, huh? Take Mei (Ziyi Zhang) for instance. She is a beautiful blind girl who is living amidst the time of the Tang Dynasty. She's smart. She's a good dancer. She has a nice singing voice. Plus on top of that, she infiltrates an oriental brothel and picks a fight with Captain Leo (Andy Lau), so she can avenge the death of her father, who was once the leader of the splinter-group called 'The House of Flying Daggers'.
Don't worry though; Captain Leo does manage to detain Mei for a short while. Err - that is until a debonair young swordsman named Wind (Takeshi Kaneshiro), breaks Mei out of custody, and then aides her in travelling back across the country, towards her renegade brethren.
But wait a minute? Who's Wind? And what has he got to do with the price of prawn crackers now, huh? Well, to Mei, Wind is the man whom has helped her fight off the emperor's men on route, as well as the pretty looking chap whom she starts to fall in love with along the way. Whereas to Captain Leo, Wind is in fact his second in command called Jin, as well as the cleaver looking chap whom is helping him track down Mei's superiors in 'The House of Flying Daggers'.
Pretty duplicitous turn of events, right? And to make matters even more strained within these proceedings, over time, Jin starts to have feelings for Mei in turn. In fact, Jin gets so confused about this whole romance / deception malarkey; that he even tries to break away from her for a short while.
Nope - does not work - because in no time at all he comes to her rescue, just in time for 'The House of The Flying Daggers' to show up, and reveal three things.
Mei is not who she appears to be. Captain Leo is not who he appears to be. And love is not as apparent as you might think either.
Though, that is most probably why what next transpires is a right pain in the backside I can tell you. As emotions are wrought - brotherly battles are fought - daggers do fly - and someone does die.
To paraphrase Williams in the Bruce Lee flick 'Enter theDragon' - "Man! You are like something right out of a comic book". And do you know what? He would be exactly right if he was talking about this movie masterpiece 'House of Flying Daggers'. Heck, this film is just so full-color-fantastic, that I want to cry! It's stylish in execution. The story is a simple mixture of pathos, emotion, and action. Plus I have to say that the three principle actors, Andy, Ziyi, and Takeshi, are just a joy to watch. Moreover, the wire-work in this film is on the same par as other Hong Kong greats like 'Once Upon in China' or 'Iron Monkey' (click on the respective links to read the review).
Here, have a look at some of these facts about this film: (1) Ziyi does not know any martial arts, and she spent two months living with a blind girl to get into her role. (2) The bamboo forest has been a stalwart in oriental cinema since the forties. (3) The snowy weather conditions at the end of the movie was not styled by design. It just snowed early that year in the
[where it was filmed], and the director, Zhang Yimou, was very happy to go with
the flow. (4) Originally, veteran actor, Anita Mui, was going to be cast in
this film. But when she died of cancer before shooting started, director,
Zhang, re-wrote the screenplay to remove her character out, as a sign of
respect. On a side note, Anita's name was listed in the credits, although it was cited in the past that Michelle Yeoh or Brigitte
Lin would be cast instead. (5) The literal
English translation of the Chinese title is "Ambushed from Ten
Directions". And (6) This film was conceived to be a companion piece
to the 2002 Jet Li film "Hero". Ukraine
OK, so now that I have sung 'House of Flying Daggers' praise, plus spilled a bit of trivia into the proceedings as well, what next? The bad side of this movie? Err - well - to be honest with you, in my option, this movie does not have that much of a 'bad-side'. Granted, the theme music does sound a bit like the theme tune from 'The Godfather' films. And in places, the mannered and doe-eyed posses do make you want to slap the actors involved. But apart from those little grumbles - no - this is a smashing film to watch.
Oh! By the way, I best not forget to mention what is at the core of this film - art and heart. You see, to me, what makes this film more than a normal kung-fu film, is that it lavishes the screen with both splendor and grace, whilst at the same time trying to spread a simple message about rebellion and the inadvertent bi-product of rebellion.
Please note, people have always been used as pawns by those on high, and always will be. What sets the noble man apart from his though, is how his emotions are pure and his heart is as clean as the driven snow.
Just think about it.
THE RATING: A