In 859 AD, the Tang Dynasty is in decline and the Chinese government is corrupted. In the light of that, many rebel groups have emerged and the biggest one is the Flying Daggers, which is based Feng Tian County. Even though the leader of that group was killed, Jin (Takeshi Kaneshiro) and Leo (Andy Lau), two police captains, have ten days to kill the new leader. To do so, they arrest Xiao Mei (Zhang Ziyi), a beautiful and blind exotic dancer, because they believe that she's the daughter of the Flying Daggers' old leader. In order to find the hideout of the Flying Daggers, Leo and Jin concoct a ploy: Jin will get Xiao Mei out of jail, pass off as a former police captain who espoused the Flying Daggers' cause and go North with her while Leo along with some soldiers follow from afar.
Unlike Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon or Hero, this film is more a love story than a martial art film. However, with such a simple story, don't expect to see that much depth in House of Flying Daggers. Therefore, let's face it: the budding romance between Jin and Xiao Mei is as cheesy as a chivalry tale for kids (i.e. woman falls in love for a man after seeing him in action). However, thanks to Takashi Kaneshiro's (Chungking Express) charisma of big star and Zhang Ziyi's (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) talent, even the sternest critics of all can forgive such a flaw. Indeed, the romantic story between a revolutionary and a double agent easily captivates us.
Besides, no one can deny that House of Flying Daggers is so appealing thanks to its colourful cinematography, the exotic landscapes of Northern China and the beautiful costumes that contrast the decline of the Tang Dynasty. Through such well-used lens, House of Flying Daggers is an ode to love even in time of chaos. This is why we see Jin wondering if he should pursue his mission or feel free like a wind and live his love with Xiao Mei (which obviously dismays Leo, who is brilliantly played by Andy Lau). However, the question is: will the romance between Jin and Xiao Mei meet an obstacle? All in all, it was only Zhang Yimou who could use such a wonderful historical symbolism to drive such a simple story.
Finally, a the film goes into its second half and displays its plot twists, I understand that some people might find it harder to follow than - let's use an example - the 7th season of 24. However, despite an obvious cheesiness (no intended comparison with Partition), the movie looks great and can be extremely entertaining (forget what many detractors of this film told you).
|Screenplay:||Li Feng, Zhang Yimou and Wang Bin|
|Starring:||Zhang Ziyi, Takeshi Kaneshiro and Andy Lau|