House of Flying Daggers

I can't decide whether House of Flying Daggers is a crappy, pretty movie, or just a pretty crappy movie.

While not as morally odious as Zhang Yimou's previous film, Hero (moral of the film – mass deaths are supercool, as long as China is Great), it is a pointless excercise in colors and action. The film's plot is, essentially, meaningless, the love story is stolen (it is, in its way, yet another retelling of Romeo and Juliet), and even the pretty action isn't all that exciting. We've seen better in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. And in that film, the beautiful action served an actual plot.

The film's one saving grace is also its link to CTHD – Ziyi Zhang, who is as talented as she is lovely, and as lovely as anyone on the planet this side of Uma Thurman.

Mark R. Kelly, who liked Hero and House of Flying Plotlines much more than I did, asks if they (and Crouching, Hidden), are Fantasy.

I definitely think Crouching (etc.) is Fantasy. People don't just leap in an unbelievable manner, they actually FLY in the film. Human flight is Fantasy. I don't view the other two as Fantasy, though the martial arts certainly has fantastical elements. Feats of the type you see in these films are par for the course in Kong Fu movies. Leaping two meters into the air effortlessly is pretty much the essence of the genre.

House of Flying Daggers certainly strains the viewer's disbelief, but the plot is the aspect of the film I found truly unbelievable, not the leaping from slender, slender trees.

3 מחשבות על “House of Flying Daggers”

  1. It's called Wuxia, and it's a distinctly Chinese Fantasy genre, which treats martial arts as magical. It's arguable that the Star Wars movies, with their Jedi force masters, are also in the Wuxia sub-genre.

  2. Oh, also – I saw Hero without translation (because I've lost my DVD remote; also saw Jackie Brown with Hungarian subtitles because of that), so I have no idea what it was really about and who was what (except that "people with facial hair are usually baddies, unless thay are played by Tony Leung, who will have a tragic love affair with Maggie Chung's character").

  3. The "Jedi Forces" of the Star-Wars movies may have been inspired by the Wuxia genre, but the main inspiration for most of the physical action in the movies was inspired by Japanese Samurai Films, mostly directed by Kurosawa, and period dramas ("Jidai Geki" as they are called in Japanese, giving Lucas the inspiration for the title "Jedi").
    The interesting bit here is that Lucas was equally insipred by Italian "Spaghetti" Westerns – films that, in turn, drew a lot of inspiration from Kurosawa, AND from the crime novels of Dashiell Hammet, who deeply influenced Kurosawa!
    More info can be found on this (really, really amazing) website – including a beautiful analysis of how Lucas combined the West/East elements:

    http://www.jitterbug.com/origins

    (I'm really into this site nowdays – along with Kurosawa's "Hidden Fortress", the original "Star Wars" trilogy, Joseph Campbell's "Hero of a Thousand Faces", original "Flash Gordon" comic strips and pulp-era space-opera novels, as part of research I'm doing for a class devoted entirely to the "Star Wars" movies I'm gonna teach next year. Definately the most fun research I ever had to do…).

    -Raz

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