Thought of the Day

I don't believe in morality, but I believe in ethical conduct as set out by His Holiness the Dalai Lama: "Ethical conduct = a way of behaving that respects others’ right to be happy".

Wednesday, 7 December 2005

House of Flying Daggers :: 30 Second Review

Director: Yimou Zhang
Written by: Feng Li, Bin Wang, Yimou Zhang

Year: 2004
Country: China/Hong Kong
Language: Mandarin
Runtime: 119 minutes

Plot: During the reign of the Tang dynasty in China, a secret organization called "The House of the Flying Daggers" rises and opposes the government. A police officer called Leo sends officer Jin to investigate a young dancer named Mei, claiming that she has ties to the "Flying Daggers". Leo arrests Mei, only to have Jin breaking her free in a plot to gain her trust and lead the police to the new leader of the secret organization. But things are far more complicated than they seem

As recommended by Lindsey, I have finally managed to watch this film and, like her, I was surprised to have enjoyed it that much.

I watched Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon some years ago and found the combats a bit too scenic, too boring and ridiculously unrealistic. At the time, I was missing the crucial sense of their mise-en-scene: the poetry with which Ang Lee was trying to recreate, through the magic world of martial arts, the mythical and classical China.

In The House of Flying Daggers the combats, filtered through the metaphor of fluid and symmetrical dancing movements, resulted more pleasant to the eye and thus more *accessible*. And then, behind the spectacular action, there was a story of loyalty and betrayal, whose gradual disclosure constantly diverted the viewer’s expectations, confounding him or her about the real feelings, priorities and drives of the characters. As Lindsey says, this film was a "disguised melodrama", concealed by the sense of duty and honour of the respective parties, preventing them from showing any sentimentalism, but not strong enough to prevent their most passionate feelings from emerging at times. In tune with the lyrical style of the film, those passions do eventually explode in a poetic and non-conventional fashion. And the result is even more disheartening than any emotional dramas a western spectator is accustomed with.

And she (Ziyi Zhang) is wonder-full! A bold and at the same time graceful & child-like beauty.

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