I am not a lover of romance films – I cringe at the thought of sitting through a chick-flick featuring star crossed lovers or any Nicholas Sparks adaptation. There are exceptions to my hard hearted rule with House of Flying Daggers being the top of this list.
PLOT: After Captain Leo (Andy Lau) discovers that Mei, (Ziyi Zhang) the blind daughter of the leader of the Flying Daggers, is hiding in a nearby brothel he sends his partner Jin (Takeshi Kaneshiro) undercover to lead Mei to safety and unveil the hiding place of the rebel group. Things become complicated as Jin falls in love with Mei and as the General’s army closes in on the Flying Daggers it becomes clear that no one is who they say that are. END PLOT
The crux of the pot boils down to the traditional love triangle which everyone is familiar with, the twist is, you don’t actually realise that you have been watching a love triangle unfold until the final act.
The plot is full of symmetrical moments from the echo game, Jin and Mei pulling each away from a kiss and Jin and Mei leading each other through the forest. It is cleverly done and the film needs to be watched a few times to fully appreciate what is going on.
The translation from Mandarin to English fares well for the most part. Jin and Mei’s flirting about the “wind” is readable but you cannot imagine it ever being spoken in the English word.
Ziyi Zhang has got to be considered one of these most beautiful actresses around and she is excellent in House of Flying Daggers. Zhang lived with a blind child for two months prior to filming (IMDB) to pick up the mannerisms and she does an exceptional job especially as she is heavily involved in the action sequences
I have enough Asian films in my collection featuring Takeshi Kaneshiro to proclaim him a favourite. His portrayal of Jin starts off carefree (like his wind) however at the end he has completely fallen for Mei. Kaneshiro captures Jin’s original cockiness, innocence and downright confusion very well.
Andy Lau, another China based actor who should be familiar to western viewers, puts in a quiet performance which erupts into pure rage by the end of the film.
The action scenes are impressive with each having their own signature colour – yellow for the flower field fight, green for the bamboo battle and white for the final showdown. The hand-to-hand combat is phenomenal and the CGI flying daggers fit in seamlessly. There is a bow and arrow shot that puts Kevin Costner's offering to shame!
House of Flying Daggers is an absolutely stunning film with colour themes being spread throughout not only the battles but the landscapes as well. It is unapologetically arty with the seasons changing from summer, to autumn, then winter in a matter of minutes - it is arty but it is also gorgeous.
Despite the action and cinematography House of Flying Daggers is a love story at heart. The third act gets more devastating every time I watch it. I am not a crier when it comes to romances but I have yet to watch House of Flying Daggers with dry eyes.
I absolutely love everything about House of Flying Daggers and it gets a perfect 10/10. I know that even if I don’t watch it again for a few years it will still have the same affect on me as it did today.