HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS (SHI MIAN MAI FU) (Zhang Yimou, 2004)
HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS stars Zhang Ziyi as the blind showgirl Mei, who the police believe to be a member of the rebel clan fighting the emperor. Takeshi Kaneshiro and Andy Lau are the policemen who attempt to trick Mei into leading them to the House of Flying Daggers. They become rivals for her affection along the journey in 859 A.D. China.
Director Zhang Yimou dazzled with the deeply saturated colors in HERO. He adopts a stylized but more naturalistic look for the visually sumptuous wuxia spectacle HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS. The film features three remarkable scenes. The opening act’s echo game, in which Zhang Ziyi dances according to which drums surrounding her are struck, introduces the sense of play and romance that pulses through the film. The second act’s fight sequence in a bamboo forest boasts bravura physical battle while the climactic struggle ratchets up the emotional violence to operatic proportions. HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS is a sight to behold for the eyes, and the sound design is a treat for the ears. Whether it’s the percussive echo game or the clink of swords, Zhang draws attention to the sounds, a technique that underscores Mei’s way of seeing in the world. HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS is a breathtaking action picture and a passionate romance.
(Review first aired on the January 18, 2005 NOW PLAYING)