A soldier helps a beautiful assassin escape prison and rejoin her
group of rebels, only to find himself falling in love with her.
House of Flying Daggers (2004)
Directed by Yimou Zhang
Written by Feng Li, Bin Wang, Yimou Zhang
Starring Ziyi Zhang, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Andy Lau, Dandan Song
Oscar Nominations - Best Cinematography
House of Flying Daggers wants so much to be a dramatic love story, but it lacks the necessary emotional depth. The film is visually stunning, but seriously lacks in story and characters. Everybody has a secret agenda and with every reveal, each one becomes less and less special. I wanted to like it, but it wasn't at all what I expected. The film splits between a martial arts action flick and a serious drama, but the two never mesh well and end up turning the film into a giant misstep with some gorgeous landscape shots.
The performances are pretty good, but the characters are irritatingly one-dimensional. Two of the supposed main heroes try to rape the lead heroine, but both times it's shrugged off like nothing happened. Ziyi Zhang's tendency to stare off in one direction like a brain-damaged sheep didn't do her character any favors either. Overall, I don't feel like this film was handled very well structurally. The action scenes are okay, but not nearly good enough to label House of Flying Daggers as a martial arts epic.
This boring Chinese melodrama's only redeeming factor is its tragic ending. It's one of the few moments in the film that actually feels raw and emotionally damaging. The fight scene is well-choreographed and all three actors really step up their performances. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to bring House of Flying Daggers into the light and win me over. There's simply not enough keeping the film together, and its reliance on beautiful cinematography will only take it so far.