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House of Flying Daggers review

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House of Flying Daggers review

Old 07-18-04, 01:38 PM
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House of Flying Daggers review

Zhang Yimou's newest film, HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS, was just released in Hong Kong this weekend. It stars Zhang Ziyi, Andy Lau and Takeshi Kaneshiro.

I haven't seen it yet (I plan to this Tuesday), but the reviews from Hong Kong in general were, frankly, scathing. People were trashing it left & right! Here's one recently printed:

House of Flying Daggers (directed by Zhang Yi Mou, 119min)

Takeshi Kaneshiro and Andy Lau are deputies who set a trap to track Zhang Zi Yi (the blind daughter, of the leader of outlaws "House of Flying Daggers") to her home so that they can expose the outlaws' identities and hideout. But as they follow, they begin to discover plots within plots, and that no one is who they claim themselves to be...

This anticipated film must be the greatest disappointment of 2004. To list a few main reasons: The plot is a laughable mess; the twist and turns allows no build up of conflicts and tension; the actors lack chemistry; the film goes downhill after the first hour; there is no room for the characters to develop; the visuals are overly decorated; the film's general tempo gets slower and slower; the love between the characters are tactlessly drawn out hence not a sense of romance or subtlety; the fight scenes are uninspired; characters don't die when they should; the film doesn't end when it should...

So given that the film is both an artistic and commercial flop, let's talk about the actors. Takeshi Kaneshiro gave a great effort in the role and fitted his character very well. He was the gem of the film if one must pick something to appreciate. Very well casted and a well rounded performance. Andy Lau on the other hand looked very out of place. He just didn't seem to fit. He also carried himself so methodically that he was obviously just acting and not being in character. Zhang Zi Yi had huge problems interacting with the other actors. She was detached as a character and an actor that the complete performance looked superficial. But it would be unfair to the actors if the story is not to blame for. They simple were not given the chance to playout their characters or develop a relationship that would constitute a drama.


So one would have to consider why you would spend two hours to watch a dramaless film. To think that Zhang Yi Mou would have learnt from his last film, Hero; but there he goes again, adding yet another piece of trash to his esteemed filmography...

ratings: 1/5 (one star out of five)
Old 07-18-04, 03:25 PM
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I don't care how back the reviews are, I still can't wait to see this movie.
Old 07-18-04, 03:57 PM
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I just found out about this movie recently and can't wait to see it. I loved Zhang Ziyi in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, hopefully the film will show in the U.S. in more than just like 3 theaters.
Old 07-18-04, 04:54 PM
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i believe sony picture classics will release the film shorty in the U.S.
Old 07-18-04, 07:33 PM
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I think the release date is sometime in Dec/Jan for this movie. It's having it North American premiere at the Toronto Film Festival.
Old 07-19-04, 02:39 PM
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Someone calling Hero a piece of trash can't be taken seriously.
Old 07-19-04, 04:54 PM
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I still want to see it. I'm hoping to catch it at the Toronto Film Festival this September, but the tickets will probably be a bitch to get (I hate how that festival's ticket buying system works. )
Old 07-20-04, 02:05 PM
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Okay, I've seen it myself now.

And unfortunately, the reviewer is not too off-base. Sigh.

First off, I gave HERO an 8/10, and thought it was an utterly beautiful, captivating experience. Though I maybe have some problems with its politics, it was never less than interesting.

HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS, on the other hand, has no such political/social implications. Worse, it has no real plot, except one extremely overextended love melodrama and utterly contrived INFERNAL AFFAIRS-esque twist. Plus, Zhang Ziyi seems to die about a hundred times - just to get back up and again to say some monotonous fluff (my friends actually were LAUGHING at these scenes!). Any Lau is incredibly wooden to the point of laughability, and the excess CG near the end really ruins it - utterly fake blood and seasonal change from out of nowhere. Then it just...ends. Yup, just like that.

On the plus side, the sound of the film is utterly magnificent & possibly the best I've ever heard - some scenes had such mind-blowing sound that I had to brace myself. And the costumes were WAY better than in Hero.....lovely art direction too. On the other hand, without Chris Doyle the cinematography was very pretty, but hardly awe-inspiring like in HERO. Also, the setting was noticeably NOT very Chinese, and sure enough, it was revealed that the film was shot in the Ukraine!

The best parts of the movie was the incredible drum scene and the bamboo forest scene (which IMO blows Crouching Tiger's away). But the ending was just so hokey, and so was the whole soap-opera love drama. I was very disappointed, and I wish that he'd just stick to his social dramas than make any more of this kind of off-key big-budget films.

Score: 5/10
Old 07-20-04, 02:11 PM
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Originally posted by cultshock
I still want to see it. I'm hoping to catch it at the Toronto Film Festival this September, but the tickets will probably be a bitch to get (I hate how that festival's ticket buying system works. )
Cultshock, have you attended the Toronto Film Festival before?

I was reading through their guidelines for this year and it seems that you have to pay for a package and then submit a list of the movies that you want to see however you are not guaranteed to get tickets to them.

I really want to go to watch this movie at the Festival.
Old 07-20-04, 02:14 PM
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Man, I was really looking forward to seeing this movie. After reading these reviews however, my enthusiasm is a bit lower. But I'll probably still see it.

Zhang Ziyi really seems to be bringing down every movie that she's been in after CTHD
Old 07-20-04, 02:35 PM
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BTW, the end theme song for the movie is....in English?!??! I've been watching a film completely spoken in Chinese, taking place in 852AD China, and the end theme song is in English?!??! People in my theatre actually booed when they realized it was in English! Oi vay....
Old 07-20-04, 05:54 PM
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Cultshock, have you attended the Toronto Film Festival before?

I was reading through their guidelines for this year and it seems that you have to pay for a package and then submit a list of the movies that you want to see however you are not guaranteed to get tickets to them.

I really want to go to watch this movie at the Festival
That's basically how it goes. You buy a book of ticket "coupons" and when you choose what films you want to see, there is a lottery, if demand exceeds supply (so no guarantee to see a particular film). Or you can go to the box office the day of the film showing and if there are any tickets still available, you can buy them (in the case of high profile films like DAGGERS, it would be unlikely). For the sold out films, there is also a standby line you can wait in, for a chance to buy a ticket if someone doesn't show up (worth a shot, I guess). This year for the first time, you are able to buy individual tickets online for a specific film, but this doesn't take place until the day before the festival opens, so people who bought the books of tickets earlier have already had first shot.

It's too bad that tickets for individual films aren't just initially made available on a first come, first serve basis (the Tokyo International Film Festival works this way, and I had no problem getting tickets to individual films there last year. It worked out great). I guess the TIFF feels it can make more money doing things this way. I'm going to take a shot and try to order individual tickets the day before the festival, but I'm not holding out too much hope for seeing House of Flying Daggers.
Old 07-20-04, 09:38 PM
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well, I'll end up seeing this regardless of the bad press, but the reviews here are disappointing.
Old 07-21-04, 11:23 PM
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Well, the reviews might be bad but HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS has become the biggest ever opener in China. It beat the previous record held by, who else, HERO. The film has done spectacularly in HongKong also (over HK$7.7m in 5 days).
Old 07-22-04, 04:33 AM
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Ugh...the film is definitely *not* doing spectacularly in HK. It is already lagging behind HERO after the first week.

Opening Weekend:

Hong Kong:
Hero - US$1,785,181
House Of Flying Daggers - US$889,630

Taipei:
Hero - NT$ 30M
House Of Flying Daggers - NT$ 17.8M

It did shatter HERO's record in China, but I seriously think the bad word-of-mouth will mean that it won't gross as much as HERO did.
Old 07-22-04, 08:38 AM
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Darn, that bad, eh, Grimfarrow?

Oh well.

And I was just salivating over the posters at www.monkeypeaches.com.

So it's like a soap opera? That sucks. Will watch it still though. I didn't really like Hero as much as I liked Crouching Tiger. I'm still hoping I'll like it. I wonder when it will come out over here.
Old 07-22-04, 08:40 AM
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btw, where did you get that review from?
Old 07-22-04, 04:26 PM
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Just because the film is lagging behind Hero in Hongkong doesn't mean it's doing bad. I hope you aren't that naive.
Old 07-22-04, 08:30 PM
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And, after all the precautions taken for this film, bootlegs were available 4 days after the film's opening:

BEIJING, July 21 (Xinhuanet) -- Pirated DVDs of Zhang Yimou's "House of Flying Daggers" are already on sale around the city despite many measures the renowned director took to protect his film.

Zhang had taken similar precautions for his last film, "Hero," and it was also quickly available on DVD, reported Wednesday's Shanghai Daily.

"We've made marks on each print and all the three pirated versions proved to be from the No. 56 print airing in Zhujiang Cinema Lines in Guangdong Province," said Zhang Weiping, producer of the film. "The piracy is earlier and more rampant than 'Hero'."

Cinema managers say they don't know how to stop China's rampant pirates.

"It's very hard since we cannot open audience members' bags to check for cameras," said Gao Rong, marketing manager of Shanghai Cinema World.

Zhang Weiping, film producer, said the film has taken in 55 million yuan (US$6.6 million) at the box office as of yesterday, despite negative reviews from the critics.

But Bao Yifan, vice marketing manager of the city's leading United Cinema Lines said the piracy would hurt the movie's box-office revenue considerably.

"The first week is crucial for a movie and the piracy appeared on the fourth day of release, much earlier than expected," Bao said.

"Pirated DVDs sometimes show up on the day of the premiere day or even before the premiere," said Li Xiaojun, producer at Shanghai Film Group. "Piracy creates a vicious circle for Chinese film industry. The unsatisfactory box office will diminish the enthusiasm of investors and producers, which will finally affect the quality of future movies."

Some DVD vendors say the copies of "Flying Daggers" are too poor to sell.

"All the present versions are shot in cinemas," said one DVD store owner. "The quality is so poor that I don't sell them in case customers are not satisfied. The high-quality DVDs will come in two weeks."
http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/20...nt_1623498.htm


At least some vendors have the integrity not to sell the poor quality bootlegs and wait for the high quality ones. Now that is customer service.

I'm surprised that checking audiences' bags for camcorders is not an option. I've always gotten searched when I go to concerts, for pete's sake, and I'm supposed to live in a free country. I didn't think that China was big on right to privacy.
Old 07-22-04, 11:20 PM
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Originally posted by alessandro
Just because the film is lagging behind Hero in Hongkong doesn't mean it's doing bad. I hope you aren't that naive.
I work in the film industry. I hope you aren't that naive to think that I don't know the industry enough to know which films are or aren't doing well?

HOFD is not doing "bad" - but it's certainly no runaway hit like HERO was. It will most likely not hit the HK$20 million mark that is usually the level to be considered a success.
Old 07-22-04, 11:26 PM
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Originally posted by Grimfarrow
I work in the film industry. I hope you aren't that naive to think that I don't know the industry enough to know which films are or aren't doing well?

HOFD is not doing "bad" - but it's certainly no runaway hit like HERO was. It will most likely not hit the HK$20 million mark that is usually the level to be considered a success.
Grim,

Have you heard any advance rumours if this film might get released onto HK DVD before the end of the year?
Old 07-22-04, 11:37 PM
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ey grim,

didn't know you worked in the industry

what do you do there?
Old 07-23-04, 01:53 AM
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Originally posted by Grimfarrow
I work in the film industry. I hope you aren't that naive to think that I don't know the industry enough to know which films are or aren't doing well?

HOFD is not doing "bad" - but it's certainly no runaway hit like HERO was. It will most likely not hit the HK$20 million mark that is usually the level to be considered a success.
Working in the industry doesn't make you any more or less knowledgeable my friend, i do too but i don't go around claiming that. Although it's nice to see you recognizing the fact that the film is not a disaster after all like you mentioned earlier.
Old 07-23-04, 06:41 AM
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Giles - the DVD will definitely be out in China by the end of the year. As for HK version, will ask Edko.

Joeydaninja - sorry, can't divulge that But I've been seeing a bunch of new films lately, including STEAMBOY and THE HAND (Wong Kar-Wai's part in Antonioni's EROS).

Alessandro - an advice - drop the attitude, especially as a new member. I never said it was a disaster. I just said that it is not "doing spectacularly" as you have so falsely claimed.
Old 07-23-04, 01:54 PM
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Originally posted by Grimfarrow

Alessandro - an advice - drop the attitude.
, just because i am correct doesn't mean i have an attitude problem but i'll try to follow your advice

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