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.
Lu and Feng are a devoted couple forced to separate when Lu is arrested and sent to a labor camp as a political prisoner during the Cultural Revolution. He finally returns home only to find that his beloved wife no longer recognizes him.
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 <email@example.com>
A feast for the senses, a fully satisfying cinematic experience.
Shi Mian Mai Fu belongs to a growing body of work that embodies a clearly Asian aesthetic packaged just as clearly for Western consumption. It is no coincidence that, each time I paused the DVD for whatever reason, the still image on the screen was as beautiful as any classic wood block print by Hiroshige or Hokusai. Xiaoding Zhao's elegant cinematography imbues every scene with haunting beauty. Think Tak Fujimoto times ten, with no disrespect meant to Fujimoto, who shoots Western movies and still manages to inject his refined visual sense into such great films as Silence of the Lambs and Sixth Sense.
Director Yimou Zhang's work in Hero was more epic, more heroic, but SMMF has a more refined sense of story. The cast, the scenery, the music, including vocal performances by the legendary Kathleen Battle; all elements conspire brilliantly to convey subtle and nuanced meaning in moments. The story, as do all good stories of this genre, revolves around a delicate interplay of love, betrayal, deception and heroism of many different kinds, and, oh yes, those stunning ballets of combat layered with evocative sounds and effects.
In a nutshell, the plot goes something like this. A beautiful blind showgirl is captured as a spy. Her captors conspire to trick her into leading them to her leader. Along the way, both hunter and quarry become entangled in a web of subterfuge and deception. Add in a beautifully tragic romantic story line, again, as all such movies must have, and never forget that the essence of all truly great tragedy is inevitability.
This movie is also known as Ambush From Ten Sides, and in that more literal translation of its title you will find its essence. A worthy successor to Hero, though not as magnificent as Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, in which Ziyi Zhang gives the performance of a lifetime and the one against all her other roles will be judged, and in this case, fall short, House of Flying Daggars is nevertheless a feast for the senses and a fully satisfying cinematic experience.
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