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House of Flying Daggers

Released: 2004

Genre: Action & Adventure

Runtime: 1 hr 59 min

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Yimou Zhang

Starring: Takeshi Kaneshiro, Andy Lau, Ziyi Zhang, Dandan Song, Hongfei Zhao, Jun Guo, Shu Zhang, Jiusheng Wang

Zhang Yimou’s epic about star-crossed lovers in 9th Century China.

Ravishing, gravity defying, deliriously romantic.

Review by: MiamiMovieCritic

Added: 7 years ago

In 859 China, near the fall of the Tang Dynasty, a rebel group called the House of Flying Daggers is fighting the corrupt and incompetent government. One of the rebels, Mei (Ziyi Zhang), is captured while posing as a showgirl at the Peony Pavilion brothel. Meanwhile, two policemen, Jin (Takeshi Kaneshiro) and Leo (Andy Lau), hatch a plan to infiltrate the rebels.

Jin pretends to rescue Mei, hoping she’ll lead him to the House of Flying Daggers. For three days, through a forest strewn with fallen golden leaves, Mei, who’s blind, and Jin, who’s having second thoughts, head north toward the rebel base, fighting off Mei’s pursuers and quickly falling in love.

This is the premise for Zhang Yimou’s ravishing, gravity defying, deliriously romantic martial-arts masterpiece House of Flying Daggers. Yimou also directed last fall’s Jet Li hit Hero, which was visually stunning but emotionally cool. Here, Yimou combines formal virtuosity with an emotional ebullience rarely seen in action pictures.

The director and his costume and set designers have fashioned the most physically beautiful film since Wong Kar-Wai’s 2000 romance In the Mood for Love. House of Flying Daggers’ unforgettable set pieces include a shimmering pond where Mei seduces Jin and a bamboo forest shrouded in green mist where imperial fighters bend the tops of the trees to fly high above the two young lovers. In the fight scenes, Yimou applies an eye-popping digital sheen to the martial-arts stylizations of Ang Lee’s 2000 epic Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

Zhang, who is one of the pure pleasures of world cinema, delivers her most engaging performance yet. Kaneshiro and Lau provide strong support as men whose secrets unravel in a flurry of fists and spilt blood.

Run to this House immediately. When you look inside, you can almost see heaven.