During China's Tang dynasty the emperor has taken the princess of a neighboring province as wife. She has borne him two sons and raised his eldest. Now his control over his dominion is complete, including the royal family itself.
After more than four hundred years of war between the Shinobi warriors of the Manjidani Koga and Tsubagakure Iga clans, the Lord Hattori Hanzou decrees that they must live in peace. Both ... See full summary »
China in the 1920's. After her father's death, nineteen year old Songlian is forced to marry Chen Zuoqian, the lord of a powerful family. Fifty year old Chen has already three wives, each ... See full summary »
It's a heroic tale of three blood brothers and their struggle in the midst of war and political upheaval. It is based on "The Assassination of Ma," a Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) story about ... See full summary »
During the reign of the Tang dynasty in China, a secret organization called "The House of the Flying Daggers" rises and opposes the government. A police officer called Leo sends officer Jin to investigate a young dancer named Mei, claiming that she has ties to the "Flying Daggers". Leo arrests Mei, only to have Jin breaking her free in a plot to gain her trust and lead the police to the new leader of the secret organization. But things are far more complicated than they seem... Written by
Chris Makrozahopoulos <firstname.lastname@example.org>
It's An Action Flick! It's A Love Story! It's A Date Movie!
"House of Flying Daggers (Shi mian mai fu)" shows they can make movies like that anymore. This is a grand action love story that fully captures the eye and the heart, the pulse and ears. Yes, an action flick can be a date movie!
While building on the Wu-Xia tradition of literature and film that's as much historical fantasy as any rollicking Dumas adventure or the "Lord of the Rings" films, director Yimou Zhang incorporates elements we have seen elsewhere into a freshly thrilling experience.
"Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" had a more sophisticated plot, but this one's twisty enough in the ever more duplicitous spies/hunter and the hunted vein.
It has a lot of plot similarities to another Ziyi Zhang-starrer, the drama of 1930's war intrigue "Purple Butterfly (Zi hudie)," minus the political lessons.
From Japanese films there's borrowing from the "Zatôichi: The Blind Swordsman" legends as well as almost as much from Kurasawa's "Hidden Fortress" that Lucas did for the "Star Wars" saga, and then borrowing forest fighting imagery from Lucas to an open meadow as magical as in "The Wizard of Oz."
"The Matrix" movies may have wowed us more with "bullet time" plus there is a lot of following arrow trajectories as in "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves," not coincidentally as the titular rebels are stealing from the rich to benefit the poor, but the context of the weapons for Siu-Tung Ching's martial arts choreography are more varied and emotional.
Baz Luhrmann's "Moulin Rouge" is only a bit more over the top than the beautiful production design and elaborate costumes in this Peony Pavilion, but every inch of the screen and soundtrack is as operatically filled and should be experienced on a large screen.
The director's own "Hero (Ying xiong)" is more beautiful as this is missing cinematographer Christopher Doyle's aesthetics but Xiaoding Zhao's cinematographical debut captures a breathtaking variety of landscapes in straightforward storytelling. The sound design is as important, with lots of heavy breathing from tension and exertion.
While it's a much smaller cast than sweeping epics like "Dr. Zhivago," "Titanic" or "Gone With the Wind," it has that swept away feel of a love story amidst larger forces, even if for much of the movie its the force of nature of the geography of Ukraine and a bamboo forest national park, which forcefully reminded me of an elementary school unit my son's class did on how bamboo is stronger than steel.
"Warriors of Heaven and Earth (Tian di ying xiong)" showed that spectacular scenery can be a backdrop for a pedestrian movie. But like "Hero," the enormous canvas is background for zooming in on three enormously charismatic actors in a passionate and unexpectedly tricky love triangle.
Ziyi Zhang needs to watch someone other than Mary Pickford, especially some Susan Sarandon or Jeanne Moreau, to learn that there's more levels in projecting romance than smoldering ratcheting right up to jump his bones, but one has to make some allowances as this is the first as sexy as this Chinese movie and the romance does recall pre-Code Hollywood. Her beautiful shoulders are used quite provocatively.
Takeshi Kaneshiro is ravishingly captivating but Andy Lau gives him a run for your heart in surprises that revolve around the unusual plot point of a woman's willingness being paramount, which is refreshing and adds suspense and emotion to the story.
The closing Kathleen Battle song is a bit over the top, as the music throughout verges on schmaltzy as it shamelessly reinforces what you see and hear, but you are left gasping if not weeping at the end anyway.
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