Somewhen, a while ago came “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon” and it opened the eyes of the west to the badassness of kung fu Movies and deceived the world into thinking Ang Lee is a good movie director. A bunch of really bad wired-flying martial b.s. later and we’re sick and tired of the genre. Then comes “House of the Flying Daggers” and we were like “Hmmmm… this could be the return to glory for KungFu” … Or, is it? All images are belong to Zhang Yimou (director) and Sony Pictures Classics (distributor).
Mr. Towelhead reviews:
HOUSE OF THE FLYING DAGGERS
The film’s genre is Wuxia, which, according to tha’ Wikipedia.org means “Martial Hero”, initially used for literature, apparently it became so popular it has spread over to TV, films, soap operas (just kidding) and video games. Basically a Wuxia film “follows the adventures of a martial artist” [wikpedia.org on wuxia]. For westerners’ terms the movie could be called an action flick sprinkled with adventure, politics, drama, romance and science fiction (what?, you’ll see).
The film was released in 2004, distributed by Sony Pictures Classics, directed by Zhang Yimou and written by Peter Wu, Bin Wang and Zhang Yimou himself.
One of the biggest issues with the movie is that it tries to be, way too many things. Is it art? Is it a dance movie? Is it a political thriller? Is it an action flick? Is is a romantic-drama? Basically it’s like an evil inbred hybrid trying to be everything! But not the quiet one that stays in the basement, oh no!
The movie tries to be romance and drama but features an unbelievable romance triangle. For starters we have the love-interest [who happens to be a trained ruthless assassin and infiltrator], she falls in love with a sleazy, inexperienced, peeping-tom aficionado whom she JUST MET for no reason other than the script telling her to.
I mean, look at this guy! He’s good looking, I’ll give him that, but that EXPRESSION!
“DAaaaaahlkslqwkjhhtlnksdhaaaaau…” – Takeshi Kaneshiro
The movie tries to be wuxia but the fights look more like wired-dance-choreographies than… wired-fight-choreographies. They are extremely beautiful in the sense of movement and dance but far from a fight.
The political-plot of the movie is near incomprehensible, five hours into the movie and twenty betrayals after you have no clue who is who, and who is on which side. And at the end you may be clueless as to who wins. It might be just as well, that the bad guys, disguised as good guys, killed all the bad guys, so that the other good guys didn’t notice they where bad guys from the beginning. Tada!
Jedi Knights with Bamboo swords on top of trees… No problem
And things stray into the realm of science fiction when they present to you flying daggers sword-fighting against soldiers, daggers homing in on targets like heat-seeking-missiles and even daggers multiplying mid flight. AND TELEPATHY! Near the end of the movie the director pushes the characters into a dead-end, but cops-out by magically giving ’em telepathy, OUT OF THE BLUE! Just because.
I can guess that a Wuxia film is not primarily told through story, concept or dialogue. Rather its a story told through martial arts. Unfortunately the story told through martial arts in the movie is this:
1. We have a lot of money, lets have Zhang Ziyi dance all sexy for HOURS, for no reason what so ever.
Zhang Ziyi, doing her Zhang Ziyi things…
… [yawn] what a surprise.
2. We have some money, lets have some sci-fi ninjas flying on bamboos.
3. We’re out of money, lets have the dudes fight over Zhang Ziyi, for HOURS, for no reason what so ever.
An important aspect of the look of the film is that director Zhang Yimou is supposedly famous for scenes dominated by colors. Perhaps the colors make some sort of symbolic or cultural sense, but as a mexican-swiss hybrid that I am, I, had, no, CLUE. So there.
House of the Flying Daggers is like watching an oil painting from Marc Chagall and being completely unable to understand it. You get that its beautiful (or that, its suppossed to be beautiful) but you don’t really understand what the f* is before you. And perhaps, perhaps there is a deeper meaning to everything but the dance-fights and the horrible mix of genres divert our attention from that deeper meaning [if there is any].
Mr. Towelhead is not happy:
5 / 10
The movie is boring, tedious, obnoxious and at the end you’ll be screaming while ripping your hairs off your skull BEGGING for the bitch to die, ehrmmm… I mean, for the movie to end. The movie deserves less then a five, but then again the cinematography and some of the dances/fights are AMAZING, so that compensates a bit.
At the end you’ll be like: “Bitch, please, please, PLEASE! DIE already!”
What I am trying to say is that the movie, drags… a little bit
My Naughty Opinion [muahahaha]
I think the movie made a lot of money because people thought that “House of the Flying Daggers” was the next “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon” and went to the cinema’s like sheep to the slaughter. And many of us were heavily disappointed because of what we expected. The Flying Daggers is a mediocre Wuxia film which somehow, managed to get a budget of 12 million USD.