House of Flying Daggers: A Review.

So I went and saw House of Flying Daggers last night. I had to drive for an hour because it was in some theatre I’d never heard of on the edge of town, but I went and saw it. And my reaction was favorable. You might want to see it too.

First off, a warning. If you go into the theatre expecting to see a masterpiece that rivals the great and terrible majesty that is Hero, prepare to be disappointed. You might want to go in with slightly lesser expectations. (It won’t top Crouching Tiger either).

Though I had to give that warning, please don’t prejudge the film. It’s a different kind of film than Hero; it’s a love story. And while Crouching Tiger was also something of a love story, I just personally like it more. You may feel differently.

Now, enough rambling. Onto the meat. The premise of the film is that it is near the end of the 9th century and the weak and corrupt government is falling apart. The underground revolutionary movement nowadays is known as the Flying Daggers. The Flying Daggers’ old leader was assassinated by the government after three months of work, and now that a new one has risen to power the government’s fed up and gives the police ten days to find and kill the new one.

This leads to a story about love, sacrifice, the usual. The main characters are a blind girl, Mei, a playboy police captain, Jin, and his counterpart captain Leo. It plays out very well, and there are a good number of twists, some you can expect and some you can’t. (One’s real easy to figure. Mei isn’t blind. I mean, that’s such an obvious plot twist I thought “there’s no way Yimou could give it up.”) One thing I disliked was how badly the believability of the story was skewed towards the end. Remember the Trinity death scene? Nothing like that is repeated here, but there’s still the same sort of jarring “OK you’re dead already” feeling. You’ll know it when you see it.

As with Yimou’s previous film, Hero, there’s a good amount of fighting. Is it on par with Hero’s action? No. The fights are varied and the actors are very skilled but there’s no feeling of supernatural skill like you get with Li or Yen. It’s possible to compare it favorably with Crouching Tiger’s action in terms of skill, but then the fights in that movie like the fight in the restaurant and in the treetops are beautifully choreographed, whereas the fighting here is what you’d get if you put two skilled guys and a lot of disposable extras in a room together and handed them all swords (with the exception of one fight scene in a forest, but I’m not going to ruin it).

So in conclusion, it’s a good story with good action and the acting is very good, but was it as good as Hero or Crouching Tiger? I say no. You may say differently. Overall I’d give House of Flying Daggers a 7/10. Good, but not great.

I would like to hear the thoughts of those also went and saw it. Do you agree with my analysis? Yes? No?

And a final word of warning: if you go and see this movie and then go watch Spider-Man 2, you’ll realize how much Spider-Man 2 sucks. It has all this movie’s mushy scenes without any of the kickassness.

Anyway… peace out.

In my opinion, House of Flying Daggers was better than Hero, but only in terms of story. Hero’s story was so convoluted that it had to make up for it with spectacular special effects and fight scenes. Every character there was like a mythical hero. The story was like those stories about the great Knights of the Round Table.

The style of the story of House of Flying Daggers is like a mix of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Hero. The beginning is linear while the fight scene at the end goes into storytelling mode. It’s like everything becomes metaphorical. It shouldn’t be seen as literal to life.

As for this,

fighting here is what you’d get if you put two skilled guys and a lot of disposable extras in a room together and handed them all swords
, it should be pretty much expected that nameless grunts will be the first to be killed.

For me, story is as important as style or effects.

Overall, I give an 8/10.