of Flying Daggers (China/Hong
directed by: Zhang Yimou
starring: Takeshi Kaneshiro; Andy Lau; Ziyi Zhang
|Michael says: "In HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS, legendary
Chinese director Zhang Yimou returns
to the high-flying martial arts saga that he scored big with in HERO.
After seeing the gorgeous, exciting trailer, I was excited about the film,
ultimately, DAGGERS disappointed me. There is a long list of reasons why
HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS failed to thrill while HERO will most likely end
in my Top 10 of the year, but I will focus on just a couple here.
"The plot of FLYING DAGGERS is convoluted, with twists and turns reminiscent
of Andrew Lau's recent INFERNAL AFFAIRS.
The House of Flying Daggers is a
group of revolutionaries causing unrest with police forces near the end
the Tang Dynasty. The General is desperate to uncover the identity of
revolutionaries' new leader. He instructs his two police lieutenants
(Takeshi Kaneshiro) and Leo (Any Lau) to investigate a new dancer at
Peony Pavillion). Mei (Zhang Ziyi) is a blind beauty who may have ties
the Flying Daggers. Jin goes undercover to the brothel in order to win
"The film features extraordinary cinematography, breath-taking martial artistry and a melodramatic love story reminiscent of his early masterpiece, JU DOU. Yimou and his cinematographer Xiaoding Zhao again use color to create stunning tableaux. A battle with police leaping across the tops of bamboo trees is exquisitely shot. So what was the problem?
"Well, it was no HERO. Unfair you say? Comparing the two films? How
you not when they are back-to-back films by the same director? Although
Xiaoding Zhao has a strong cinematic eye, he's certainly no Christopher
Doyle, and HERO is by far the more beautiful film because of it. The
martial arts scenes are more spectacular (and better choreographed as
The story of HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS mirrors HERO's. While HERO found
characters sacrificing love for their ideals, DAGGERS characters' sacrifice
"In order for HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS to succeed, given its melodramatic
story and style, a strong cast is a necessity. Unfortunately, I don't
it had that. Zhang Ziyi as the central ingeneue is certainly no Gong
(few actresses are). She doesn't even possess the gravity of Michelle
(her co-star in CROUCHING
TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON) or the seething sensuality
of Maggie Cheung (her co-star in HERO). To pull off this role, an actress
would need both of those qualities, and Ziyi just can't cut it. As the
"And possibly, I'm just tired of this type of martial arts film? I hesitate to say that because there were certainly some pretty amazing sequences in HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS (and those flying daggers were really spectacular) but there's got to be a strong story behind it. I'm one of those few who think that HERO's story is incredibly strong and it lifts and unites that gorgeous cinematography and set decoration, and the exquisite combat scenes.
"Here's hoping that Zhang Yimou turns to something different for his next film. He's an amazing talent and I look forward to all his films. (I also hope he's not stuck on his latest muse, Zhang Ziyi, for too long.) 3 cats"
|Chris says: "I thought this film was slight but delightful in a midnight b-movie sort of way. I'm in the minority that found HERO cold and portentious (although visually magnificent), and I think I preferred DAGGERS over it because, although nearly as grandiose and melodramatic, it felt more intimate, easier to follow, and most importantly, fun (whether the humor is always tongue-in-cheek or not is debatable). Zhang Ziyi is no Maggie Cheung, but since her character was meant to be enigmatic, I thought she was well-suited for the part. Still, I can't help but think of what spin Wong Kar Wai would've given this material. After this, I'd like to see Zhang Yimou do something contemporary more like NOT ONE LESS. 3.5 cats"|
Shannon says: "** SPOILERS **
I thought this was an amazing film, as well. One of the things I liked
about it (in addition to the gorgeous and stunning cinematography and
action sequences) was the twists and turns of the plot and how all of
the characters' relationships seemed to constantly turn on a dime.
Bob responds: "I didn’t notice it… guess I’ll have to see it again. One thing I did notice in the big snowy fight scene was that, as Mei is getting up, there’s a bit of green mixed in with all the white on the screen. I thought that was a beautiful touch.
"And I’m sorry, but I liked the film a lot. I think it holds up just fine when compared to HERO, which is a very different film – Hero is much more somber and has none of FLYING DAGGERS’ humor or melodrama. Yeah, they’re both martial arts films by the same director, but they’re very different from each other.
"I do think Zhang Ziyi is a bit young, but she’s coming along
just fine, and while no one will ever replace Gong Li (cathump cathump)
think she’s very good. By the way, she’s always been referred
to as Zhang Ziyi, and that’s how she’s credited in the film
itself, but I noticed that both the one-sheet and the trailer refer to
her as 'Ziyi Zhang.' I’m betting she’s going
to be making a film in Europe or America soon…."