Tuesday, August 2, 2011

House Of Flying Daggers (2004)

Looking Great While Telling A Lackluster Tale 

- During the Tang Dynasty in 9th Century China, a police officer, Jin (Takeshi Kaneshiro), uses a blind dancer named Mei (Ziyi Zhang) to get closer to the anti-Tang government organization named "House of Flying Daggers" while another officer, Leo (Andy Lau), pursues them both. Directed by Yimou Zhang (director of the phenomenal 2003 film Hero), House Of Flying Daggers (2004) is a pretty good film but nothing of particular excellence to wright home about.

One thing that House Of Flying Daggers does feature is undoubtedly great is its visuals. The film looks very cool with wonderful coloring and texture that is worthy of its Academy Award nomination for Best Cinematography (Xiaoding Zhao). The special effects are also striking and the many featured martial arts action sequences are well-done, though not particularly better than what has been featured in other martial arts films. Other visuals, such as the film's art direction and period costumes are finely crafted as well.

Also, the film's score by Shigeru Umebayashi is awesome and easily the best element of the film - stirring melodies that grabbed me immediately.

Basically everything else that makes up House Of Flying Daggers is not particularly worthwhile however. The performances are all fine; although, apart from star Ziyi Zhang, no one in the cast stands out or rises above mediocrity.

While most of the acting is not especially impressive, it is the story that lets the film down the most. Not only is the story generally uninteresting, it is never surprising, though it is obviously trying to be on numerous occasions. Most of the supposed twists throughout the film are about as predictable as the outcome of a baseball game between the New York Yankees and some little league team from a third world nation. To make matters worse, the storyline gets more and more ridiculous as the film progresses until, towards the end, I am thinking to myself, "yeah, yeah, yeah - let's just get to the finale credits so I can at least listen to a good tune."

If you miss House Of Flying Daggers, you are not missing too much. However, with its nice visuals, terrific score and a good performance from Ziyi Zhang, I would not say that House Of Flying Daggers is a complete waste of one's time.

CBC Rating: 6/10

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