Wednesday, 28 April 2010

How Could You Love Him After Only Three Days?

I was really looking forward to watching Zhang Yimou's follow-up to Hero, which I loved. But I was strangely nonplussed by it. Maybe my love of Hero built it up too much, or maybe some of the ideas of it had been done a little too often before, but House Of Flying Daggers didn't resonate with me as much as it apparently has with others.

In old China, law and order has fallen into disarray with the rising of the house of the Flying Daggers, a Robin Hood outfit dedicated to robbing the rich to help the poor. The government manages to capture a leader of the house, Mei (Ziyi Zhang), a blind girl with an uncanny knife-throwing ability. In order to try and find their way to the base of the Flying Daggers and, ultimately, to their new leader, the government instructs a police captain, Jin (Takeshi Kaneshiro), to break her out of prison. With fellow captain Leo (Andy Lao), Jin is supposed to get Mei to lead them to the house. Leo organises staged ambushes to convince Mei of their authenticity while Jin and Mei are slowly falling for each other. Finally they make it to the house of the Flying Daggers, with a number of epic scenes and battles.

I must confess, the film is resoundingly beautiful. Truly stunning. The use of colours, especially the iconic green scene in the bamboo forest, is phenomenal, a complete shock to the senses in a totally good way. Ziyi Zhang is also very good, in addition to being stunningly beautiful. Of the men, Lao stood out for me as the better, more nuanced performance, while Kaneshiro didn't seem to have as many layers to his characterisation - it seemed much more surface and basic. He is, however, much the cuter.

The cinematography by Zhao Xiaoding was excellent, as noted, and rightly Oscar nominated, though I do to this day wonder how the amazing Christopher Doyle was overlooked for his work on Hero. Yimou seemed to get a little more epic in this love story than was entirely necessary, taking on from Hero and trying to one-up himself rather than just letting it ride the way it needed to, but such unnecessary grandeur can be mostly excused in a film such as this.

I guess, in the end, the elements seemed to work independently, but the film just didn't strike me in any great way. It was fine, I'm not going to knock it, I definitely enjoyed watching it, but looking back on it there is nothing in it other than the beauty of the scenery that really makes me remember it. But less than 3 stars seems wrong, so 3 stars it is.

1 comment:

  1. R-Co did you watch CURSE OF THE GOLDEN FLOWER? By Yimou Zhang?