House of Flying Daggers
December 3, 2004
Movie of the Day for Saturday, July 31, 2004
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On the Big Board
||Sumptuous both visually and aurally.
||Beautiful to look at
Zhang Yimou, director of such awards bait as Hero, The Road Home, Raise the Red Lantern and Ju Dou, returns to the unique kung fu cinema style he covered in Hero with House of Flying Daggers. After premiering at Cannes in May of 2004, the film is already receiving rave reviews and generating plenty of advance buzz.
As Yimou said in an interview with MSNBC, " Martial arts films are full of possibilities and I wanted to exploit them to the full." Along with the kung fu, he also was looking to tell the story of a doomed love triangle. Starring Infernal Affairs Andy Lau and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon's Zhang Ziyi, the film is set during the ninth century Tang Dynasty, where two police captains are both assigned to track the leader of the rebel group known as House of Flying Daggers. Ziyi, who plays a beautiful blind dancer named Mei, spent two months with a blind girl to prepare for her own role. Also featured as the third member of the love triangle is Takeshi Kaneshiro.
The specifics behind the story involve a corrupt government that is furiously locked in battle with rebel armies that are forming in protest of the heavy-handed rule. As the House of Flying Daggers begins to grow powerful under the guidance of a mysterious leader, two police captains, Leo (Lau) and Jin (Kaneshiro) are ordered to capture the head of the subversive group. Together, they create a detailed plan of attack.
Jin's role will be to act as a solitary warrior called Wind so that he can rescue Mei from prison. She herself is a revolutionary and a member of the House of Flying Daggers. Jin's hope is that he will earn the blind girl's trust so that she will allow him to accompany her to the headquarters of her organization.
Though the plan works, complications develop. Jin and Mei fall deeply in love during the course of their journey. The intrigue grows even deeper as they find danger in the forest that surrounds them. And though our star-crossed lovers may truly have deep feelings for one another, they still cannot deny the secrets and plans they have for the benefit of their own principles and beliefs.
One of the movie's most talked about scenes is the climactic fight in a bamboo forest. Noted for being visually striking and altogether memorable, Yimou notes, " It is as though you have to fight in the bamboo forest before you can be considered a true warrior.”
Sony Pictures Classics is the studio that has secured distribution for the film, which means that House of Flying Daggers has a fighting chance at seeing distribution at approximately the same time as Yimou's previous film, Hero. That movie was delayed endlessly by Miramax despite pleas from fans of the genre, the director and the actors involved. (Kim Hollis/BOP)