HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS
Just another "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" movie. Seriously, these movie are getting tired. Stylistically, it is gorgeous. Every scene has a theme. Every theme is shown with setting, color, costume and design. All movies have themes to them, but this one (like "Hero") is very obvious about it... i.e., in a green forest, all of the characters are wearing green; or for example, a battle that begins in the autumn, with all of the trees showing their glorious colors. It starts to snow and soon everything is covered in white.
Although beautifully shot, I have to admit I was mostly bored. There are about six or seven battle scenes in the film, and they are cool, but it's nothing we haven't seen before. Great, you're an expert with a sword and he can throw knives, and both of you do things that defy the laws of physics with those weapons. Yeah, we know. So the battle scenes, even though they have been done before, have such a stylistic aura to them that it is easy to get sucked in and they maintained my interest throughout the film. But the acting and overall character development was lacking and the development that was there was corny. Although there was significant chemistry between them all, I was really disinterested in the characters. It was their abilities that were fun to watch; and even those were so obviously CGI that it removes you from the action a little bit.
The story was simple and predictable. It started out okay, but soon turned into a romance film interspersed with martial arts fights and battles. If it had stuck to it's guns, so to speak, instead of turning into a "Jack and Rose" (you know...from Titanic) type story, it would have done a little better with me. JoBlo notes that dialogue moments like "I thought you were hot like fire, but you're actually cold like water," are ridiculously non-poetic and as I said before, corny. Though it is in Chinese and you must read subtitles (unless you happen to understand Chinese or choose the English over-dub on the DVD), I think that it would almost not be necessary to have the subtitles there to distract you. The story is so simple that you would get the gist of the dialogue simply from the emotion and visual cues. There might be one or two things that would lead to some confusion, but I think if I were to watch it again (which I won't), I would either skip the subtitles or actually use the English over-dub track on the DVD. That is something I'm usually very opposeed to, but in this case, the acting is so mediocre that it probably wouldn't matter.
So in closing I would say that if you really liked "Crouching Tiger" or "Hero," then you'll probably like this one too. It's less of a story and
more of an excuse to make some more neat-o martial arts scenes. If you haven't seen the previously mentioned films, I would highly recommend the former.
Well done and the first of it's kind in terms of scope and beauty. Hero plays on that well and adds to the aura and style of each scene in an over the top
manner. "House" just mushes the two together and it comes out like Apple Sauce. It's all right, but I'd rather just have the apple.