December 20, 2004

Off-topic: Go see "House Of Flying Daggers"

Zhang "Z" Ziyi
This weekend I saw the amazing new Zhang ("Hero") Yimou film House of Flying Daggers. This one has a beautiful cast: Zhang "Z" Ziyi (the young tough girl in Crouching Tiger), Takeshi Kaneshiro (see below) and Andy Lau in a love triangle in which much of the expression is acted in elaborately choreographed (and CG'd) fight sequences. Among the "weapons" are long flowing silk sleeves (see above) and pieces of bamboo. The director seems to want to push everything you have seen in the movies before (like fighting in bamboo trees) to the max. In fact, the whole movie is totally OTT: the colors are gorgeously saturated and the romance is uber-passionate. It will have you teary-eyed for much of the film.

In an old episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Buffy was losing a battle with an invisible assailant. There's a great shot where Buffy is beaten down - she's gonna lose - and she stops cold. The whole scene goes into silent slo-mo as she calls on her inner instincts to figure out where the assailant is. Then she whoops ass. The blind character in this movie, Mei, is similar. There are great close-ups of Mei focusing and listening for the next wave of attack. The opening 15 minutes, set in a whore house called the Peony Pavilion, features some of this and it's take-your-breath-away beautiful. That was probably my favorite sequence, aside from a very quick bit in a field, where the young warriors are attacked by a small army and, for a moment, the various players move around the field in one intricate mass of bodies and swords, as if they were actually participating in a Madonna tour performance.

Zhang twists the sexual tension so tight that it's a total relief when two of the leads finally hook up in a field, surrounded by beautiful mountains of orange, yellow and red.

Despite receiving good reviews, this movie has been criticized as a triumph of style over substance, but I disagree. It just requires suspension of disbelief - from the ridiculous situations the girl, Mei, survives, to the florid dialog. If you go in wanting an old fashioned romance / action film, you'll be happy - in fact, you will swoon!

See the amazing Echo Game in the Peony Pavilion here (click on "Echo Game")
Screensaver of Mei
Screensaver of Jin
Offocial Sony film website
Yahoo site with all sorts of trailers for this movie

1 comment:

ADD said...

Suzi saw this in Taiwan this summer (it released much earlier in Asia, obviously) and promptly emailed some girl friends in the states about how scrumptious Takeshi is. I haven't heard a bad thing about this film from friends who've seen it. Romance PLUS fighting? Had me at hello.