House of Flying Daggers (2004)

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Director: Zhang Yimou
Cast: Takeshi Kaneshiro, Andy Lau, Zhang Ziyi


Ninth century China in the latter days of the Tang dynasty, and corruption has set the eponymous, Robin Hood-like outlaws at odds with the corrupt government's police force. A flighty, amorous young officer is sent to a brothel to unearth traces of the organisation's new leader and becomes embroiled with the blind young daughter of its previous one. His superior is, unbeknownst to him, secretly her lover and a mole for the organisation.

The Review

The flying knives of the title are crucial in resolving a number of scenes but are otherwise incidental; the bulk of the film is set in the forest as the would-be lovers, Tristan and Isolde-like, evade the authorities on all sides for their own deceptive reasons: he doesn't want to hand over his 'prisoner' and she doesn't want to return to her former duty-bound existence. There is, then, plenty for lovers of character-driven action and seekers of visual thrills (it is ravishing to look at, with carefully differentiated settings denoting a very linear journey which the lovers attempt to retrace at their peril).