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4.2 out of 5 stars202
4.2 out of 5 stars
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 23 June 2005
The film was shot amazingly: I must first say that I was so impressed by the colour set up; the trees in the woods, the bamboo, the fields - it almost had a sense of England in the autumn. The storyline was brilliant, although a little confusing and full of twists - it all fell in place with a perfectly suited ending. The dancing in the beginning was choreographed to the effect of historical China so well that whilst watching the film you almost feel you are there with them due to the sound as well. The idea of making the film gives you a great insight into historical China during the late 1800's early 1900's - because the storyline of the film is of many examples of what truly happened in China in those days. Many rivalries between gangs and families went on. The martial arts - as well - choreographed in the film were not surreal - it was actually possible. Walking up trees, flying in the air from tree to tree and so on were examples of how China were so amazing at fighting and being one with the elements enabling them to achieve such impossible tasks.
What can I say, I was stunned and have a deep love of historical China and their martial arts. Watch crouching tiger, hidden dragon - then this film and you will not just enjoy it but possibly find yourself as well.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on 27 July 2005
I watched this film after being amazed by the brilliant Hero. From what I heard I was expecting the same attention to detail, brilliant soundtrack and astounding choreography seen in Hero. I was not disappointed. The story could have easily been followed without the subtitles however the film was so masterfully shot that it kept me captivated to the last scene.
The plot follows a captain in the army who is sent in undercover to discover the whereabouts of a rebel group called the house of flying daggers, who rob from the rich to give to the poor. His job is to befriend a suspected member of the house of flying daggers and she will hopefully lead him to their base. The girl is question is a blind girl, who performs at the local entertainment house (played by Ziyi Zhang) The captain at first is true to his mission and wins the girls affection but as the story develops and situations change. He realises his true feeling for the girl, and her for him but an old lover reveals himself and complicates matters, when the girl decides on who she wants to be with, all allegiances break down and there is one final battle in the name of love.
This is truly one of the most beautiful films I have ever had the pleasure to watch, the photography of the scenes, the light, the colour were perfect, a warm glow of pleasure spread through me as I watched some of the scenes. They were also helped by an exceptionally well-chosen and balanced soundtrack, with one song in particular staying through the film most of the way. The visual affect were fantastic and if you didn't know better you may feel like throwing a few knives around at home to see if the might move around objects. Unlike a lot of high action Hollywood films you could really see and tell what was happening in the fight scenes, which were all bar the last drawn-out, fight-to-the-death, spectacular. The film focuses mainly on character development and astonishing scene work rather than plot, as the story itself is frankly very simple with a few twists involved. However, if you enjoy watching films just for the sheer beauty of them, watch this film and you shan't be disappointed.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Here's one word that sums up this film: Beauty. The plot of "House of Flying Daggers" (original title: "Shi mian mai fu") is lacking, but in a way it's made up for with the intoxicating sets, costumes, and exquisite love story. Zhang Yimou backs away from the grandeur of "Hero" in favor of a more intimate story.

It's 859 A.D., near the end of the corrupt Tang Dynasty. A guerilla rebellion called House of the Flying Daggers (who are able to throw knives at great distances) has sprung up against the government. Despite the loss of their leader, the rebels are thriving. Deputy Jin (Takeshi Kaneshiro) decides to go undercover to infiltrate the House, and he tries to get the trust of blind courtesan Mei (Zhang Ziyi), daughter of the House's dead leader.

But soon he begins to fall in love with Mei, jeopardizing his loyalties, while Mei herself is experiencing confusion. But government officials want Mei dead because of her sympathies -- and even worse, they don't realize that Jin is undercover. To make things worse, Jin is not the only rival for Mei's love -- his best friend is as well.

Director Zhang Yimou apparently said that "Hero" was the warm-up to "House of Flying Daggers." It does seem more polished and fully realized, without the "Rashomon" storytelling. Instead of a war movie, it's a mixture of fairy-tale romance and beauty, and spies and guerilla warfare. The final half-hour is the stumbling block, where some plot threads come unravelled. Things get pretty confusing.

Zhang doesn't drop the ball as far as stylism goes -- color and exquisite details are in every frame. They have an almost intoxicating effect, and so do the action sequences. One of the most memorable scenes is Ziyi performing the "echo game," where she strikes drums in a particular rhythm with her flowing clothing. Not to mention a balletic, dreamlike fight in a bamboo forest, with the participants soaring and dipping like Cirque de Soleil dancers. It's all completely unreal, but there lies its beauty, like a painting of the sky that focuses on the sun and not the clouds.

This is entirely Zhang Ziyi's picture -- since her debut in "The Road Home," Ziyi has proved herself a wonderful actress. "House of Flying Daggers" focuses mostly on Ziyi, and she gives a truly exquisite performance, particularly when she pretends to be a blind woman -- watch her face. The two supporting actors, Andy Lau and Takeshi Kaneshiro, do a solid job in their roles, particularly Kaneshiro, who brings plenty of life to what could have been another cliched bad-cop-turned-lover.

"House of Flying Daggers" is worth seeing just to see -- it's visual ecstacy packed around a fairly typical love triangle plot and a slightly disappointing final half hour. But the sights alone in this intimate love story are exquisite.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
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 an artistic level never before seen on a big or small screen.
Ziyi Zhang as Mei, the blind bombshell, illuminates every frame she's in, proving her capability to carry a major movie on her slim shoulders. Her supporting male leads Takeshi Kaneshiro (Jin) and Andy Lau (Leo) have to work double time just to keep up.
Jin and Leo are Government officers, who are trying to track down the elusive underground rebel group of the title. They suspect that Mei, a blind call girl, can lead them to the rebels' hideout, and decide to use the age old plan of deception and seduction. Handsome ladies man Jin gets the plum assignment of gaining Mei's confidence, and from here, the movie turns unexpectedly into a tempestuous love story, the plot twisting this way and that under the power of love.
There are certainly less fight scenes than "Hero", the love scenes are awkward to say the least, and the movie slows considerably in places, but the combination of Ziyi Zhang, the scenic shots and the sword, bamboo and knife play make it an extremely worthwhile way to spend 119 minutes.
Amanda Richards
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 29 July 2005
This is a beautifully crafted film. The cinematography and the theatrical orchestration is wonderful. The scenery is never less than outstanding and the fights scenes move like ballet with swords. The plot, however, is somewhat lacking, with some large questions left unanswered at the end of the film. However, the romantic love triangle does provide a certain other dimension to the film even if it is not explored as well as it could be. That aside, this is a visual masterpiece, and if you just let yourself be taken away by the lovingly crafted visuals and serene music you'll find here an enjoyable couple of hours.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 29 April 2005
I believe that this film really has some of the most incredible filming and use of colour I have ever seen. As a fan of this type of movie I have seen other films, such as Hero that use colour very well, but this one is simply amazing. The story line is perfectly complimented by this use of colour, sounds (to work with the blind character) and the skill of the actors involved. Over all an excellent film (even though I've only really ranted about the use of varying colour!), although I believe you have to be a real fan of these types of movies to truly realise the skill and craftsmanship that has gone into this film, but a good watch for all.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 1 September 2005
This film was utterly stunning. The martial arts were extremely good and the acting was superb. The film had shocking twists, excellent battle scenes and was like nothing I've ever seen before. It's a one of a kind movie which catches the attention from beginning to end. It didn't even matter that the audio was Chinease. The story was very clever and the characters were all convincing. The music was beautiful and went very well with the scenery. This is a must have film. An extremely rare combination of complicated love and martial arts makes it very diverse too.
I also found the audio commentry very useful as you find out a lot about the film. You notice a lot more about how the relationship between Mai and Jin was developed and the different ways it was conveyed. You can understand more about how they are all meant to be feeling. I found I spotted most things when watching the film a second time but there was still a lot which I found very interesting and hadn't spotted until I heard the audio commentry.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 7 September 2007
This is one of my favourite films of all time. I have watched it many times and it breaks my heart each time. Is it me or are people not watching it properly. In contrast to many reviewers I find the last half hour or so the best of the film. The photography has to be amongst the best ever put on celluloid. You must watch this on as large a screen as possible. The colours of the leaves and fields is simply stunning. Then as the sky darkens and the weather changes, the snow begins to fall as the fight carries on, this is a different visual feast. This film is a complete package, the story is interesting with a couple of not very difficult to see coming twists. The ending is tragic if you are as soft as me. Throughout the film the scenes are awash with stunning set pieces of glorious colour but the final part of the film the director, cameraman and editor really go to town. As another reviewer remarked, worth watching just to watch.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 7 April 2005
Ive never really been into martial arts films before, but i thought id give this one a go and i was amazed. The whole artistry of the film was great, briiliant acting, dance and fight sequences! If youve seen hero and liked that then please watch this it is so much better! The story is a wonderful mix of romance and rivalry (not your typical hollywood rubbish though!) with some interesting twists thoughout. A must for anyone who loves martial arts films with a bit of art!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 4 April 2010
House of flying daggers is a Chinese film about a member of an anti establishment group. She is caught by the local police force and then used at bait to help track the whereabouts of the group's chief headquarters. Complications arise during the journey which results in a deadly love triangle.........

This film is almost poetry in motion and has the effects of a Beijing Opera show mixed with Chinese herbal medicine. Visually refreshing, and very calming, the premise is simple to follow. This is because it's an old fashioned love story; the complicated part is the mind frame of the lead cast. However the film is ultimately about colour; the main colour is green and large selections of other pastel colours are also utilised.

The main driving force of the film are the many twists and turns and fighting sequences. The real winner is the well choreographed action, with the bamboo (featured heavily) fighting scene being absolutely breathtaking and the highlight of the film. Having said that it is still somewhat of a sparse film, but meant to be this way. Even though not on the same level, it's beauty can be compared to that of Hero.

The acting is impressive and further proves the rise of quality oriental cinema. We have become accustomed to the face of Ziyi Zhang (Rush Hour II, Hero) but the real standout is the performance of Takeshi Kaneshiro as Jin. His intensity and deliverance of dialogue is fitting to the role and carries most parts of the movie.

The ending is ambiguous and raises more questions than answers and this may perplex some viewers. However, we must bear in mind that it is meant to be artistic, with its fair share of abstract messages. Not as good as Hero but in the same league as Curse of the Golden Flower, House of Flying Daggers is a solid addition to a trilogy made by an ever creative director.
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