I must admit, I am not a big Zhang Yimou fan. His previous effort ‘Hero‘ really ‘wowed’ me but I went in thinking this was going to be, at best, another ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon‘ knock-off. I came away from the film very impressed and it captured by big screen love of asian films.
House of Flying Daggers is an incredibly beautiful film. There is a dancing game that involves hitting a circle of drums with overlong sleeves, there’s a fight in a field of wild flowers, and of course, there is the inescapable crossing of swords while flitting around a bamboo forest. Admittedly, I was not quite as captivated by the film’s narrative as I was by its visuals. House of Flying Daggers deals with the fairly standard themes of its genre – loyalty, honor, courage and romantic betrayal.
For the most part, the film is simply entrancing, and the story is very easy to get caught up in. As the tale of a blind rebel princess on the run with a double agent, the film is a resounding, heartfelt success. Takeshi Zang is remarkably charismatic, in the way that only really big stars usually seem to manage, and Ziyi Zang is as always, stunning.
Finally, it becomes clear that all Zhang Yimou really wants to do is stage beautiful death scenes. “Hero” had more than I could count, and he doesn’t hold back here, either. Too bad it all feels generic. It’s impossible to shake the feeling that Zhang Yimou desperately wishes he, not Ang Lee, had made “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.” Unfortunately, his narrative doesn’t have any of that movie’s zing. If things couldn’t get any worse, the transfer on the Blu-ray release is subpar, though the soundtrack is excellent. Even with all those mishaps, you could be doing a lot worse if you veiwed this piece of cinema. The action is light-years beyond any of the other Asian cinema we’ve been gifted with in recent years, and the cinematography and set pieces every bit as beautiful. House of Flying Daggers is lush and tragic, without becoming completely goofy and overwrought. Slight Recommendation.