Sunday, September 12, 2004

Shi Mian Mai Fu (House of Flying Daggers)

House of Flying Daggers, directed by Zhang Yimou, comes to the festival not long after the North American release of Hero. While both movies feature Zhang Ziyi, House is not a sequel. It is a movie about a time when the Tang Dynasty is in decline and being challenged by a resistance movement led by the House of Flying Daggers. Two government officials, played by Andy Lau and Takeshi Kaneshiro, are tasked with determining the identity of the new leader of the Flying Daggers, and Kaneshiro is sent undercover to try and use Mei, a blind girl played by Zhang Ziyi, to lead them to the group.

The movie is beautifully shot, featuring many stunning autumn and winter landscapes filmed in China and Ukraine. Interesting scenes including one in which Mei is surrounded by a circle of drums and must use her sense of sound to figure out which drums have been hit by Lau, and one in which a fight occurs in a green bamboo forest.

I enjoyed this film more than Hero. I felt the plot and the characters were more developed in House, and the story more personal, unlike Hero which seemed more like a historical epic at times. However, the ending of House does seem to be a bit melodramatic and cliched in places. Overall, though, House of Flying Daggers was an excellent movie, and well worth seeing, for both the scenes between Zhang Ziyi and Takeshi Kaneshiro, and the cinematography.

There was no Q&A session at the screening I attended, but the director was there and said he was encouraged to see such a large crowd (about 1,200 or so at the Ryerson theatre) at such an early hour.


My experiences at the Toronto International Film Festival. Note this blog is not affiliated with the Toronto International Film Festival Group or the festival itself.
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