Sunday, September 25, 2011

House of Flying Daggers (2004)

Movie Review: House of Flying Daggers (2004)
Review by J. Rocci
Rated: PG-13
Starring: Takeshi Kaneshiro, Zhang Ziyi, Andy Lau

This review may contain spoilers!

Let me tell you, Takeshi Kaneshiro is hot like a hot thing. He was in Returner (2002), an awesome sci-fi movie that made me squee, and yeah. This film was way better than I had expected -- I was thinking Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), which made me cringe and Mr. Bay snore (literally) -- and the ending actually sat well with me, for a tragedy. I've likened it to a better version of Romeo and Juliet, where the main characters aren't fuckwits. The main actress, Zhang Ziyi, made me drool. She's apparently trained as a dancer and had never taken a martial art before filming, but ::flail:: and her with Kaneshiro? Double your fun.

The film was visually stunning, with beautiful forest scenes and a wonderful use of color. Quite a few of the scenes were filmed in the Ukraine, and it was just-- wow. I've got a thing for forests. But yes, the dialogue was well-written, the acting was amazing, the plot line was brilliant and had me guessing (it may require another watching to pick up on all the nuances, but you won't mind, believe me).

The storyline actually went through a major re-write just before filming because the actress cast as one of the main characters-- Anita Mui-- died of cervical cancer the month before she was to be filmed. So instead of re-casting, out of respect they shifted focus of the film away from her character and dedicated the film to her, listing her on the cast. Which I think was the proper thing to do (no commentary on Western film making here).

Overall, I'm glad my sister threatened me with bodily harm until I watched this movie. Definitely worth the rent. But watch it subtitled with the original Mandarin-- Kaneshiro and Zhang's voices should be listened to in all their glory.

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