The story surrounds an underground sect—the House of Flying Daggers—rising up during the waning years of the Tang Dynasty. One of its operatives, Mei (Zhang Ziyi), wiles her way into the arms of the local army captain, Jin (Takeshi Kaneshiro). Meanwhile, the other captain Leo (Andy Lau) attempts to squash the uprising while maintaining a secret alliance.
House of Flying Daggers is everything one would expect from Zhang Yimou boosted with a human element. The scenery—much of it filmed in the Ukraine—is so visually stunning that each shot looks like a fresh painting come to life. Kaneshiro and Lau show extraordinary depth while Zhang does her best Gong Li/Meryl Streep impressions (while still kicking much ass). There’s plenty of high-wire fighting and the CGI-enhanced effects—the camera following a hurtling rock, a shooting bamboo or arrow through the air as it hits its target—are cool the first couple of times but I thought Zhang Yimou went to the well too many times.
I would characterize HOFD as occupying the middle space between Hero and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. It retains some of Hero’s expansive and handsome looks while maintaining Ang Lee’s soft emotional touches. I’ll probably go see it again.
One of my favorite timewasters is annointing new movies a porno movie name (Better Luck Tomorrow = Better F#cked Tomorrow, etc.). House of Flying Daggers? House of Flying Peckers. Thank you, goodnight!