1.31.2005

House of Flying Daggers

After some discussion with my movie-watching companion, I thought I would be a lone voice of dissent, but it appears a number of critics were unsatisfied with their movie experience while I, on the whole, was.

The movie opens with a song and dance, intimating the extensive choreography to follow. After the blind Mei is nearly raped for turning on a young man while dancing, Mei must perform an echo dance to halt execution. Laws of gravity are defied to set us up for more of these small breaks in reality (also, daggers stop spinning to reorient themselves), but the choregraphies grow visually more aesthetic as the film progresses.

The film's plot reverses the Robin Hood story, as Robin Hood steals from the rich to give to the poor and infiltrates the enemy. Here, the enemy plans to infiltrate the House of Flying Daggers, with plenty of plot twists along the way. The story does transform into something of a Shakespearean love-triange tragedy that ends up on a sappy note (a critic or two complained of the love story, but they need to watch a character more carefully throughout). Some of the ludicrous reality breaks are eventually explained away (a character does something that indicates all the charcter has needed done was a farce), so wait patiently. But someone appears to die, arises after a lengthy period of time so that lovers can die in each others' arms. There were probably other, more convincing ways of achieving this effect.

Still, if you haven't seen this, like your love and violence liberally mixed, and prefer battles of choreography to battles of bedlam, this is a must-see.