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House of Flying Daggers
Posted to Movies at 08:54 PM on Jun 28, 2005

2004. Beijing New Picture Film Co. Directed by Zhang Yimou. Starring Zhang Ziyi, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Andy Lau and Dandan Song.

Whatever you're expecting from this movie, you're not going to get it.

It's an action/martial arts film from Hong Kong. At least, you suspect so, and for the first 45 minutes, you're right.

One of my favorite movie-viewing experiences of all time was Life is Beautiful. Beautiful starts off as a sweet, sappy romance and takes a frighteningly rapid and terrifying turn and becomes something else entirely. It is a very, very hard film to watch and I'll probably never sit through it again, but I'll remember the experience forever. House of Flying Daggers is full of similar surprises.

Zhang Ziyi (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) plays Mei, a blind showgirl in 9th century China. It is rumored that she works for an anti-government gang. She finds herself in the custody of Jin (Takeshi Kaneshiro), a soldier in the army of the emperor. Mei is not who she appears to be, and neither is Jin's fellow warrior, Leo (Andy Lau).

As well as an incredibly well-crafted storyline, this film features a feast for the eyes. The use of color throughout the movie is remarkable. Often, movies with this much visual appeal are lacking in the plot department, but not this one. It's the perfect marriage of visual effects and storytelling. The final scene is nothing short of spellbinding. The snowy landscape, combined with the gravity of the characters' predicament, is one of the movie's most unforgettable images.

Ziyi is so great. Her turn as the kick-butt take-charge princess was the second-best part of Crouching Tiger and her performance here is even better. She and Kaneshiro have great chemistry.


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