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House of Flying Daggers (DVD, 2005)
Devotees of old-fashioned martial arts movies doubtless would be amazed at the reaction to such stylish films as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and the more recent Hero. Now, from Zhang Yimou, the latter filmâs director, comes House of Flying Daggers, which takes its rightful place alongside the aforementioned epics. Like them, it abounds in physics-bending mysticism and breathtakingly beautiful images. It also subordinates the martial arts content -- superbly executed though it is -- to a love story with tragic consequences. The diminutive but spirited Zhang Ziyi, who appeared in both Crouching Tiger and Hero, brings her powerful screen presence to the role of Mei, a blind dancer suspected of being a member of the Flying Daggers, an underground resistance movement that springs up under the Tang dynasty in ninth-century China. A policeman named Jin (Takeshi Kaneshiro), working undercover, befriends the dancer in hopes that she will lead him to the movementâs secret leader. Along the way thereâs plenty of action, flawlessly staged and carried out by the legendary stunt performers of Hong Kongâs cinematic community (with a little help from the special effects department). Yimou has no use for the quicksilver cutting and close-up carnage favored by American action film directors; his shot compositions are airy enough to allow full view of the sceneâs participants, and the editing conveys rapid motion and graceful fluidity without the jarring incoherence of most contemporary fight scenes. But thereâs much more to Flying Daggers than the action. This is a story about love, loyalty, and betrayal, as emotionally complex and rewarding as anything youâll see in mainstream Hollywood dramas. Itâs nothing short of entrancing.
Please note that this is the original, genuine DVD but does not come in the original case.
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