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Film Details

Directed by: Zhang Yimou Yimou Zhang

Produced: 2004

Countries & Regions: China, Hong Kong

DVD Details

Certificate: 15

Length: 119 mins

Format: DVD

Released: 15 August 2005

Cat No: P916301000

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House Of Flying Daggers

Cast: Takeshi Kaneshiro , Andy Lau , Zhang Ziyi , Ziyi Zhang , Dandan Song

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Martial arts action-drama from Chinese director Zhang Yimou. Leo (Andy Lau) and Jin (Takeshi Kaneshiro) have been given the task of... Read More

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Martial arts action-drama from Chinese director Zhang Yimou. Leo (Andy Lau) and Jin (Takeshi Kaneshiro) have been given the task of ferreting out the leaders of a revolutionary faction known as the Flying Daggers. Jin arrives in disguise at a brothel, where the members are allegedly working and is introduced to a beautiful blind dancer named Mei (Zhang Ziyi). But when Jin drunkenly attempts to have his way with her, Leo is forced to intervene and, after gaining her trust, arrests her and informs her that she’ll be tortured if she doesn’t tell all she knows about the Flying Daggers.

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?”

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