House of Flying Daggers

House of Flying Daggers 15 S

Films About Looking: Mark Cousins Sunday Brunches


Please note: This was screened in Oct 2017

Zhang Yimou
Ziyi Zhang, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Andy Lau
114 mins, Subtitled, 2004, China | Hong Kong

Zhang Yimou seduces with this visually ravishing and artfully directed martial arts spectacle and complex love story about two officers and a blind dancer who are charged with capturing the leader of a mysterious rebel group.

The year is 859 AD and China’s Tang Dynasty is in decline. Anarchic armies have formed in protest and are locked in battle with the corrupt government - the most revered and powerful of which is called The House of Flying Daggers. Leo and Jin (Andy Lau and Takeshi Kaneshiro), two undercover imperial officers, are sent to ferret out the head of this rebel group, before its threats to destroy the dynasty's tenuous grip on power takes hold. Their search leads them to Mei, a beautiful blind dancer (Zhang Ziyi), who they enlist to help take them to the Daggers’ influential leader. But driven by passion and honour, Mei, Jin, and Leo begin to turn against each other in surprising ways as they journey through the gorgeous forests and fields that become bloody battlegrounds against the rebel soldiers attempts to kill them and their efforts to find their mysterious leader.

An awe-inspiring visual feast from start to finish, does anybody use colour or choreograph action sequences better than Zhang Yimou? A master visual stylist, Zhang creates here interiors of such ornate elaborate richness, costumes of such bizarre beauty and bamboo groves of such elegance they have the feel of a kinetic art installation, to the extent that to look at it makes the art of cinema something that is both deeply felt and utterly worthwhile. Indulge yourselves.