House of Flying Daggers (15)
Time Out saysZhang’s companion piece to ‘Hero’ remixes the colour palette and unfolds the starry cast and plot ploys, but it’s essentially a lookalike project that pushes the martial-arts lyricism of ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ into even more rarefied designer terrain. Zhang Ziyi emerges from ‘Hero’s’ sidelines as the enigmatic heart of the film’s political and romantic intrigue: first found showing a trick or two as a blind brothel showgirl, she’s fingered by two county captains of the enervated Tang Dynasty as the missing daughter of the late leader of the clandestine rebel faction the House of Flying Daggers. Leo (Andy Lau) and Jin (Takeshi Kaneshiro) haul her in, put her on the rack, then bust her out again in their own disguise: the plan is for Jin to pose as a warrior called Wind, win her confidence and track her back to the Flying Daggers’ headquarters. Leo will follow at a discreet distance; but neither the government troops on their tail nor the protagonists’ own fancies are ready to stick to this script, and as they trek across forest and field, it seems as if Cupid’s arrows are launched by 1,000 assailants…
Zhang lets the political backdrop go hang in the most flagrant way as the lovers’ loyalties and identities turn their circles, but even the romantic operatics float evanescently on the wind; character, nature, time and space are all wrung through Zhang’s digital bubblegum mill. The end product is enough to engorge your eyes and ears; just don’t look too closely at the additives, or ask: where’s the beef?
Fri Dec 24, 2004