House of Flying Daggers (2004)

From the director of “Hero” and the producer of “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” comes this dazzling story of China’s very own female “Robin Hood” and her merry women, The Flying Daggers. After countlessly robbing the rich to feed the poor, this band of femme fatales are now hunted down by Feng Tian County’s finest officers.

Trailer

CAST

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Rush Hour 2’s Zhang Ziyi dawns the role of the alleged blind beauty, Xiao Mei who unfortunately finds herself in an unusual love triangle with double agent Captain Leo (played by Andy Lau) and Takeshi Kaneshiro, the undercover playboy Captain Jin. But can their matters of the heart be settled as gentlemen?

PLOT

During the reign of the Tang Dynasty, the Chinese government in the year 859 AD issued an order to Police Headquarters in Feng Tian to assassinate the new leader of the Flying Daggers within 10 days. However, due to the complex circumstances of the order, it was a task that could only be completed by the very best that police had to offer; Captains Leo and Jin.

The cunning captains devise a secret operation consisting of Captain Jin going undercover to investigate a suspicious woman (Xiao Mei) who had become the new dancing sensation at the local brothel, The Peony Pavilion, in hopes that she may lead them to the House of Flying Daggers. During the investigation, Xiao Mei, attempts an attack on Captain Leo’s life in her efforts to escape being arrested, but his kung fu proves to be more than she can handle.

To gain her trust, the undercover Captain Jin rescues Mei from police custody, and the two of them escape into the forest of Feng Tian. As Jin and Mei traverse the woodland terrain surviving every assassination attempt thrown their way; passion and romance fill the air between them blurring the lines of duty and sensuality. However, it seems that their love is destined to difficulty -it appears there’s more to the secret undercover operation; the Flying Daggers and the blind Xiao Mei than meets the eye.

ACTION

This dramatic film effortlessly combines sophisticated wuxia genre characteristics (trampoline assisted acrobatics and wired action choreography) with futuristic CGI (colour enhanced backgrounds and 3D effect visuals) to present the audience with scene after stunning scene. In fact, one of the most breathtakingly beautiful moments was when Xiao Mei performs the “Echo” Dance followed by her crossing swords with Captain Leo in the Peony Pavilion.

Xiao Mei exhibits flowing circular movements which are attributes of the Wu Dang Sword style while Captain Leo’s style of sword trapping contains elements of Shaolin Sabre techniques. Truly the level of swordplay demonstrated is so masterful from both actors that it borders on the phenomenal. Captain Jin is no slacker either. In his prison break scene he reveals some gravity defying acrobatics and a barrage of rapid kicks from various heights and directions that resemble Taekwondo.

SUMMARY

Overall this spectacular Oscar nominee is a rich blend of drama, romance and gorgeous martial arts action that will assuredly appeal to hard-core kung fu action addicts and hopeless romantics alike.

TRIVIA

  • In 2007, Andy Lau and Takeshi Kaneshiro team up once again to work alongside Jet Li in director Peter Chan’s film “The Warlords”.
  • Anita Mui was due to have a role in House of Flying Daggers, but due to her unfortunate passing, director Zhang Yimou rewrote the script and dedicated this film to her.
  • Most of the films scenes (snowy field and birch forest) were filmed in Ukraine’s Hutsui Region National Park.

FILM RATING: 7.5/10

Since the early age of 7, Tyrone has been a martial art film, manga and anime fanatic. Being immersed in this world of action, combat and the warrior spirit, he went from imitating the movements of legends like Jackie Chan, Hwang Jang Lee, Siu Tin Yuen, and Chia-Hui Liu to taking up WTF Taekwondo in 1996. Over the years Tyrone has won many national competitions as a heavyweight fighter earning him the opportunity to be on the British Fast Track Talent Programme for the London 2012 Olympics and even train with Olympic Heavyweight Taekwondo Champion, Moon Dae-Sung. Tyrone is currently a 1st Dan Black Belt as well a Boxing and Muay Thai practitioner. When he is not training he spends his time watching martial arts movies and researching soft style techniques that involve an adept understanding of pressure points and the mechanics of energy flow/transference.

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