Shi mian mai fu (House of Flying Daggers)

This was DVD number 2 for us last weekend. It sounded good from the cover description, and as I am a fan of kung fu and Hong Kong/Chinese movies I thought it would make for a good afternoon of viewing.

I was disappointed by the story. And I am sorry to say that I got bored about 20 minutes from the end.
I don't like being disappointed by kung fu movies. It just feels wrong to me not to have enjoyed such skill and grace.
I thought the pacing was fine until it came time to wrap the story up. It dragged on and on and on. It was clear that the two lovers were not going to ride happily off into the sunset. The reaction of "the jilted man" was excessive but it would not have spoiled the ending, but for the ridiculous length of time and unnecessary fighting that finally came to an end with the heroine's death.

Okay, so that was the bad stuff.

On the flip side of the excruciatingly long, dragged out ending, is the sheer beauty and texture of this film.
This is the second film by Yimou Zhang that I have seen in recent months, the other being Hero or Ying xiong. They are both beautifully filmed pieces and have stunning visual impact.
In House of Flying Daggers there are many wonderful visual treats – the Echo game, the chase through the forest, and the chase through the bamboo grove. The latter is particularly good, especially if you like the colour green.
The costumes are flawlessly beautiful and there is no complaints about spending time looking at the actors either with Ziyi Zhang, Andy Lau and Takeshi Kaneshiro in the main roles.

But I still can't reconcile the lack of compact storytelling with the beautiful look of the film. Which is a real shame.

I can't give this a good recommendation for the entire film entity, but if you want to see what great visuals are possible in a movie, then spend your $5 and hire this DVD. Just remember – buyer beware – you may be bored before the end.

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