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.