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House of Flying Daggers

Review by Jason Blake

House of Flying DaggersRavishing 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 stakes?

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 showdowns tedious.

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


House of Flying Daggers
Australian release:
Thursday February 17th, 2005
Andy Lau, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Ziyi Zhang, Dandan Song.
Zhang Yimou.
Click here.

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