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 The House of the Flying Daggers

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mikomijade
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PostSubject: The House of the Flying Daggers   Fri Aug 10, 2007 11:55 am

http://www.bbc.co.uk/films/2005/04/28/house_of_flying_daggers_2005_dvd_review.shtml

House Of Flying Daggers DVD (2004)

Reviewed by Stella Papamichael

Reviewer's Rating User Rating

After the phenomenal success of Hero, Chinese director Zhang Yimou followed up with House Of Flying Daggers. Not just a martial arts movie, this is an epic romance "inflamed with breathless sensuality" and jaw-dropping visuals that wowed critics and moviegoers alike. Zhang Ziyi stars as a blind revolutionary caught in a love triangle between two policemen (Andy Lau and Takeshi Kaneshiro) who enlist her in the hunt to track down a gang of assassins.

Flight Of Fancy

In a 45-minute 'making of' documentary, Zhang Yimou is keen to point out that this isn't all about great action scenes. "It's a tragic love story," he explains, "The movie is focussed on the process of love, emotions and feelings." Erm yes... Yimou does get rather too touchy feely on some points, but there's enough here to make up for that. Best of all is an exciting behind-the-scenes look at the shooting of that extraordinary battle sequence in the bamboo forest.

Indeed the choreography played a major role in creating a heightened sense of reality, but Andy Lau was initially hesitant about this. "I'm not a good action actor," he confesses, "but I'm a good dramatic actor which is why I thought I could pull it off as a martial arts master." Meanwhile Zhang Ziyi explains that her physical grace is "owed to six years of dance class when I was a young girl". Along with these backstage interviews, there are notes on designing the lush sets and costumes, plus a trip to Cannes where cast and crew where overwhelmed by a warm reception on premiere night.

"There was applause when the film ended," recalls Yimou in the feature commentary. "People seemed to like it." Zhang Ziyi (who accompanies him for the track) is just as gratified by the film's international success, but her experiences on set were apparently gruelling. For the elaborately staged Echo Game, the director reveals, "Every move basically had to be shot 20 or 30 times." Even with her six years'. dance training, it was a tough shoot for Ziyi, who says, "I remember the musicians at the side would applaud every time I got it right." She politely adds, "It was nice to have that encouragement." Evidently you need to read between the lines to get the most out of this commentary...

Cut To The Chase

A featurette on visual effects is pretty basic. In essence it's a music video montage of CG layers for key scenes like the 'sleeve and sword' dance and four arrows hurtling through a forest. Five scene-to-storyboard comparisons reflect how meticulously planned these set-ups were. It's a matter Yimou also talks about in the commentary. For example he reveals that The Echo Game took six months to prepare before the day of shooting.

Elsewhere there's a pointless interactive feature that lists the date and location for five key scenes (mostly autumn in the Ukraine) while other trimmings include cast and crew filmographies, five behind-the-scenes photo galleries and a music video. Ultimately the 'making of' documentary and feature commentary provide all the substance in this unnecessarily scattered two-disc package. Like those daggers, you'll have to cut through dead air to find true enlightenment.

EXTRA FEATURES

*Audio commentary by director Zhang Yimou and star Zhang Ziyi
*Making Of documentary
*Visual effects featurette
*Filmographies of cast and crew
*Five storyboard-to-finished-film comparisons
*Five behind-the-scenes galleries
*Locations file
*Lovers music video
*Theatrical trailer and TV spots
*The House Of Flying Daggers DVD is out to buy on Monday 2nd May 2005

Technical Information
REGION SOUND MENUS RATIO
2 Dolby Digital 5.1, Digital DTS Animated, with music 2.35:1 (anamorphic)
CHAPTERS SUBTITLES AUDIO TRACKS
20 English Mandarin
CAPTIONS EXTRAS SUBTITLES CERTIFICATE
English The special features are subtitled

End Credits

Director: Zhang Yimou

Writer: Li Feng, Zhang Yimou, Wang Bin

Stars: Andy Lau, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Zhang Ziyi
Genre: Action, Adventure

Length: 119 minutes

Cinema: 24 December 2004

DVD: 02 May 2005

Country: China/Hong Kong
Average rating:
4.5 from 148 votes
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