House of Flying Daggers
Review by Jason Blake
Ravishing to look at but
dramatically inert, House of Flying Daggers taxes
your patience to the brink.
Zhang Yimou is a director who uses China’s
historical past as an allegory for the present.
So it’s entirely possible that Flying
Daggers can be read as some kind of socio-political allegory
- but frankly, who can be bothered if it doesn’t deliver in the drama
This time around he takes us back to the
declining years of the Tang Dynasty – circa 860 AD.
The Emperor is incompetent and the integrity
of the empire is threatened. All across the land, rebel armies are
springing up, the most deadly of them being a brigade of knife flinging
forest dwellers, the House of Flying Daggers.
It falls to a couple of imperial cops -
by-the-book Leo (Andy Lau) and cocksure Jin (Takeshi Kaneshiro) - to
flush the Daggers out of their hiding place using a captured Dagger
operative, a beautiful blind assassin called Mei (Ziyi Zhang of Crouching
Tiger, Hidden Dragon), as bait in an elaborate operation that
requires Jin to “defect” to the rebel side.
Will Jin be unmasked? Will love bloom and if
so, between whom? Can they find the Daggers’ hideout before blundering
government troops catch up and ruin the operation?
It matters not a jot because Flying
Daggers is really just an excuse for Yimou to indulge his
love of digitally enhanced, gravity defying fight scenes. There’s
plenty in Flying Daggers to draw the eye - the
bamboo forest set piece a showstopper - but little to appeal to the
head or heart. The story is pure syrup, the acting wooden, the serial
Coming so soon after Zhang Yimou’s Hero,
probably the most beautiful martial arts movie ever made, Flying
Daggers is a major disappointment.
2.5 out of 5
of Flying Daggers
Australian release: Thursday February 17th, 2005
Cast: Andy Lau, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Ziyi Zhang, Dandan Song.
Director: Zhang Yimou.
Website: Click here.
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