Saturday night after work Miss L and I went to see The House of Flying Daggers.
It's near the end of the Tang Dynasty, and police deputies Jin (Kaneshiro) and Leo (Lau) tangle with Mei (Zhang), a brothel dancer suspected of having ties to a revolutionary faction known as the House of Flying Daggers. After arresting her, Jin concocts conconts a plan posing as a wannabe revolutionary, breaking Mei out of prison so she can lead him to the secret camp of the faction. There are a number of plot twists that pit Jin and Mei against hordes of the Tang millitary, showcasing some slick high-wire martial arts choreography. Not surprisingly, Jin falls in love with Mei (who wouldn't) and further twists develop into a final battle encapsulating a desperate and angry love triangle. With lucid cinematography showcasing landscapes in China and the Ukraine, it's easy to get lost in the visual beauty and making it something really made for the big screen. The acting, particularly the chemistry between Kaneshiro and Zhang, is effective and quite powerful.
Several of the reviews I've read tout it as even better a film than Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon It is an excellent movie, but I'm hard-pressed to put it above CTHD. A handful of the fight scenes seem almost a little too choreographed; for example, at one moment Mei and Jin are surrounded by ten soldiers. The soldiers move in synch, stabbing their swords at the same time and creating a pattern of criss-crossed metal. A beautiful visual, but it bothered me for some reason. I've liked martial arts movies since I was a little kid, but CTHD really raised the bar with it's level of story, acting and visual beauty. I will concede that I was simply blown away by the newness of CTHD and my memory may not quite be fair.
It's far and away better than Hero, though (which I also like). The story here in Daggersmanages to wrap a much more complex and moving story over Hero's straight action/adventure storyline.