House of Flying Daggers
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House of Flying Daggers

4.5 13
Director: Zhang Yimou

Cast: Takeshi Kaneshiro, Ziyi Zhang, Andy Lau Tak-wah

     
 

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Chinese director Zhang Yimou fuses a martial arts action-drama with a tragic romance in this elegant period piece. In the year 859 A.D., as the Tang dynasty is beset by rebellion, Leo (Andy Lau) and Jin (Takeshi Kaneshiro) are a pair of lawmen who have been given the task of ferreting out the leaders of a revolutionary faction known as the Flying Daggers. Working on a

Overview

Chinese director Zhang Yimou fuses a martial arts action-drama with a tragic romance in this elegant period piece. In the year 859 A.D., as the Tang dynasty is beset by rebellion, Leo (Andy Lau) and Jin (Takeshi Kaneshiro) are a pair of lawmen who have been given the task of ferreting out the leaders of a revolutionary faction known as the Flying Daggers. Working on a tip that members of the group are working out of a brothel called the Peony Pavilion, Jin arrives there in disguise and is introduced to a beautiful blind dancer named Mei (Zhang Ziyi). After watching Mei's performance following several drinks, Jin drunkenly attempts to have his way with her, and Leo is forced to intervene. After gaining Mei's trust in a game of skill, Leo arrests her and informs her that she'll be tortured if she doesn't tell all she knows about the Flying Daggers. Jin responds by helping Mei break out of prison, but he has an ulterior motive -- by following her, Leo and Jin are certain she'll lead them to the Flying Daggers. However, as he helps the blind girl find her way back home, Jin finds himself falling in love with Mei, and isn't certain if he's willing to betray her again.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Ed Hulse
Devotees of old-fashioned martial arts movies doubtless would be amazed at the reaction to such stylish films as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and the more recent Hero. Now, from Zhang Yimou, the latter film’s director, comes House of Flying Daggers, which takes its rightful place alongside the aforementioned epics. Like them, it abounds in physics-bending mysticism and breathtakingly beautiful images. It also subordinates the martial arts content -- superbly executed though it is -- to a love story with tragic consequences. The diminutive but spirited Zhang Ziyi, who appeared in both Crouching Tiger and Hero, brings her powerful screen presence to the role of Mei, a blind dancer suspected of being a member of the Flying Daggers, an underground resistance movement that springs up under the Tang dynasty in ninth-century China. A policeman named Jin (Takeshi Kaneshiro), working undercover, befriends the dancer in hopes that she will lead him to the movement’s secret leader. Along the way there’s plenty of action, flawlessly staged and carried out by the legendary stunt performers of Hong Kong’s cinematic community (with a little help from the special effects department). Yimou has no use for the quicksilver cutting and close-up carnage favored by American action film directors; his shot compositions are airy enough to allow full view of the scene’s participants, and the editing conveys rapid motion and graceful fluidity without the jarring incoherence of most contemporary fight scenes. But there’s much more to Flying Daggers than the action. This is a story about love, loyalty, and betrayal, as emotionally complex and rewarding as anything you’ll see in mainstream Hollywood dramas. It’s nothing short of entrancing.
All Movie Guide - Skyler Miller
Zhang Yimou's House of Flying Daggers bursts with energy in nearly every frame, inviting the type of hyperbole usually associated with Hollywood ad blurbs: "Pulse-pounding!," "Breathtaking!," "Heart-stopping!" Yet the brilliant imagery lives up to such over-the-top language, accurately describing the visceral nature of this visually stimulating work. Scenes like the colorful "echo game" exist solely to amaze our senses, and the battle in the bamboo forest stands as one of the most sublime fight scenes in recent memory. Although firmly within the realm of fantasy, the "wuxia" action has a surprisingly brutal quality, setting it apart from other recent mainstream entries in the genre. Beyond the violence and pageantry, though, House of Flying Daggers also succeeds with some tastefully erotic romance scenes, helping to warm up the otherwise distant characters. But unlike Zhang's Hero, a true model of lean storytelling, House of Flying Daggers drags in the third act by introducing what amounts to an entirely new relationship dynamic. The movie loses momentum once Jin and Mei reach their supposed destination, and ends with a final confrontation between three characters that's handled with muddled choreography and an uncharacteristically poor sense of space. In the end, the plot is too superficially complex for its own good, creating setups and characters it doesn't fully develop. But to criticize script shortcomings in a movie this hypnotically beautiful almost seems cruel. House of Flying Daggers is disappointing only in the sense that it falls short of being a masterpiece.
Entertainment Weekly - Owen Gleiberman
An outrageously gorgeous spectacle of balletic aggression. At the same time, it offers something we rarely encounter in a whirling martial-arts extravaganza: a romantic passion that's woven into the very fabric of the action.
Chicago Sun-Times - Roger Ebert

The film is so good to look at and listen to that, as with some operas, the story is almost beside the point, serving primarily to get us from one spectacular scene to another.
Chicago Tribune - Michael Wilmington

It's as thrilling and lushly beautiful a movie as has been released all year, matched only by Zhang's epic "Hero." And I think this film is the more powerful.

Product Details

Release Date:
04/19/2005
UPC:
0043396091788
Original Release:
2004
Rating:
PG-13
Source:
Sony Pictures
Region Code:
1
Presentation:
[Wide Screen]
Sound:
[Dolby AC-3 Surround Sound]
Time:
1:59:00
Sales rank:
27,760

Special Features

Zhang Yimou and Ziyi Zhang audio commentary; 45-minute making-of featurette; Making-of the visual effects featurette; "Lovers" music video; Storyboard comparisons; Photo galleries

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Takeshi Kaneshiro Jin
Ziyi Zhang Mei
Andy Lau Tak-wah Leo
Song Dandan Yee
Kathleen Battle Singer

Technical Credits
Zhang Yimou Director,Original Story,Producer
Wang Bin Original Story
Wang Bing Original Story
Tony Ching Action Director
Li Feng Original Story
Zhang Jianming Choreography
Tao Jing Sound/Sound Designer
Bill Kong Producer
Cheng Long Editor
Chau Siu-Mui Makeup
Huo Tingxiao Set Decoration/Design
Shigeru Umebayashi Score Composer
Emi Wada Costumes/Costume Designer
Zhang Weiping Executive Producer
Zhao Xiaoding Cinematographer
Yang Xiaohai Makeup
Zhang Zhenyan Associate Producer
Han Zhong Art Director

Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Start
2. Mei
3. Beauty Song
4. The Echo Game
5. Assassination Attempt
6. Threat of Torture
7. Rescuing Mei
8. Wind
9. Mounted Assault
10. Cool As Water
11. Secret Meeting
12. Real Flowers
13. "Soldiers Are Approaching."
14. Unseen Benefactor
15. The Nature of Wind
16. Bamboo Forest
17. The Flying Daggers
18. Blindsided
19. The Mole
20. Three Years
21. No Future
22. His Life in Her Hands
23. "If We Meet Again..."
24. Life-Changing Decision
25. All Truths Revealed
26. Blood on Show
27. Destiny by Dagger
28. ."..A Beauty Like This

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House of Flying Daggers 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have watched this movie 3 times and each time is leaves me breathless and sad at the same instant. The martial arts scenes are nothing short of spectacular but the main theme of love and the chemistry between Takeshi Kaneshiro and Ziyi Zhang is something you see between Bogart and Bergman in Casablanca. Finally Yimou has outdone himself. I would recommend this film to anyone who loves ancient china movies but always found them lacking in beauty and sensuality. The sad part is that this film was recommended for a Golden Globe both for Ziyi and Yimou and the picture itself but won nothing. I also recommend the CD which has such haunting and beautiful music that i find myself humming the score all the time.
NEC More than 1 year ago
I'm not particularly fond of martial arts films. However since I saw this in theaters i was taken. The beautiful cinamatography is just breath takingly beautiful!! The story is excellent and both my husband and I have watched it several times. I would recomend this to anyone without hesitation! The love story moves me to tears everytime and the fight sceens keep me on the edge of my seat. The wire work is simply amazing!! I would recomend anything John Woo directs! This is a must have for any home movie collection!
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