Reviews

House Of Flying Daggers

4

A poetic journey of love, self-discovery, self-sacrifice and hard-hitting, weapon-zinging pain-bringing. Auteur-turned-arse-kicker Zhang Yimou labelled Hero a rehearsal for Daggers, but this is no rehash. It's a more accessible, emotive picture: a tragic love story redolent of Romeo And Juliet, combined with the fugitive element of Robin Hood and astonishing, iris-tantalising set-pieces. Less painstakingly crafted than DoP Christopher Doyle's compositions in Hero, Zhao Xiaoding's work in Daggers is no less visually arresting: the title's soaring shivs, the blood in the snow, Zhang Ziyi's silky `bean dance' (okay, `echo game' - whatever).

Also, in ditching Hero's distancing multiple realities, Yimou gives heart to the action. We're clued in early to the characters' duplicity, with Mei (Ziyi), a blind beauty suspected of being embroiled with the underground resistance in 9th-century China, `rescued' by undercover rozzer Jin (Kaneshiro Takeshi). Watching it again, you appreciate the performances that ground the spectacle - the uneasy gestures, awkward glances and fleeting touches that lay the foundations for a formidable house.

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      Nov 3rd 2010, 14:05

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