Tuesday, August 01, 2006

House of Flying Daggers: My favorite martial arts film


From the star of the Academy Award-winning Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and the director of the most expensive film in Chinese cinema history, the fantasy epic Hero, comes a spectacular Chinese love story set in a conflict a long time ago in imperial China’s history—House of Flying Daggers.

“House of Flying Daggers” or “Shi Mian Fu” in Mandarin, which literally means “an ambush from ten sides”, is the second contribution of director Zhang Yimou’s to the Chinese swordplay or wuxia film genre. It features a bamboo martial arts sequence better executed than the one in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; computer generated flying daggers; a jaw-dropping fight scene; adrenaline-pumping sword-fights; and a story centering on two men in love with the same woman. Plenty of moments send the audience into a state of awe, or artistic arrest.

Basically, a simple “love triangle” was created among the main characters. This time Zhang Ziyi’s portrayal delivers a stunning performance but not as impressive as in Crouching Tiger where her strong character as a fighter is impressive. Pretending as blind at the beginning of the movie looks convincing bringing the audience into surprise when she was actually not. The way she acted the impeccably choreographed Echo Game really proves her real-life artistic feat in modern and folk dances plus, her beautiful aura stands out.

Another remarkable thing in the movie is the shooting place where thousands of flowing flowers in the background are breathtaking.

The resulting House is an astonishing work of cinematic beauty; filled with strong primary colors and evocative storybook forests of green bamboo or autumn leaves. The sound design is remarkable, staging a series of ritualistic combat scenes that are stunning in brevity.

Conclusively, House of Flying Daggers tells of a passionate emotional journey, in which three people suffer for love—it tears them apart, yet they are willing to sacrifice everything for it.

1 comment:

Janvangogh said...

Good film. All those Chinese movies are sooooo dramatic -- almost to the excess.

BTW, Dr. John sent me.