House Of Flying Daggers DVD
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Directed by Zhang Yimou
Produced in 2004
Main Language - Mandarin
It’s possible to see Zhang Yimou’s Hero as a somewhat repressive film, its underlying imperialist message cloaked by lavish set dressings, its characters so cosseted by their costumes that they never quite moved in ways you’d like people in a martial arts flick to move. The great joy of Zhang’s follow-up House of Flying Daggers – which serves as both a companion piece to Hero and a corrective – is how those decorations are forever being ripped up or off. Here, two ninth-century Chinese cops (Andy Lau and Takeshi Kaneshiro), investigating the eponymous resistance movement, fall for the same blind assassin (Zhang Ziyi, an actress of such delicate charms she should be in a museum, not the movies).The action which follows is even more strikingly choreographed andballetic than Hero’s, yet it’s ritualistic in the sense of a
blood-letting rather than the previous film’s trooping of some
state-sanctioned colour: you’re certain somebody’s going to get hurt, if not with swords then by love. A lush bamboo forest gets whittled into terrifying projectiles: encoded in the narrative is an understanding of how dangerous beauty can be, how it can seduce the eye into overlooking the blade to the throat, the jackboot to the groin.
The immensely beautiful Hero was the work of filmmakers who’d themselves been seduced by such sights. It therefore makes sense the female lead of House of Flying Daggers might be blind and thus unable to take in the stunning landscapes Zhang surrounds her with. Most telling of the differences between the two films is the moment where one of the cops hands the girl a change of clothes. Her response is not delight at such fabulous new costume design, but humbled and greatly more affecting: “Do I look awful?”
Mike McCahill on 21st March 2005
Author of 338 reviews
Martial arts action-drama in which Zhang Ziyi gives a fine performance as the blind warrior in Zhang Yimou’s follow-up to Hero. She is tracked by a guard hoping to arrest the resistance group of the title, but passion intervenes. The action set pieces are as extraordinary as those in Hero, although here the emphasis is more on the human relationships than on fight scenes.
Length: 119 mins
Aspect ratio: 2.35 Anamorphic Wide Screen
Format: DVD Colour
Released: 15th August 2005
Cat No: P916301000
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