Netflix January 2015_day.29 – House of Flying Daggers (2004)

_There are times when you wake up, and you’re ready to go do stuff. Eyes open, you roll out of bed, and you think to yourself “I’m going to get things done today.” Those are rare days. Common days are the days when you wake up and you try to find a good reason to roll over. I’m gonna tell you…those are the hard days. Nothing makes those days easier. I’d love to put my hand on your shoulder and say “It’s gonna be alright” and try to will you out of bed, but I can’t. Not in good conscience. I don’t know if it’s gonna be alright. I would feel really bad if I told you that and nothing went right. So all I can really say to you for those days when you can’t get up…is that I know the feeling, and you have my empathy. Go forward with that knowledge.

Up today, we enter the House of Flying Daggers.


_The plot of House of Flying Daggers is love triangles. It starts off making you think it’s political intrigue, with the rebel group aptly named the House of Flying Daggers rising up against the dynasty. Plot happens, lots of double agents are revealed doubling, but in the end, all that matters is the love, man. Love conquers all. Especially plot points.

_I don’t say that as a particularly bad thing. In a way, it actually makes a ton of sense with the way it’s presented in the context of the movie. As our heroes soldier on, eventually, the problems of their past such as “Allegiance” and “Politics” start to matter less and less to them. Jin starts out protecting his fellow soldiers as me pretends to be a deserter, but eventually, just says “Fuck you guys, I’m siding with the sexy lady.” and starts murdering them to protect their skin. Sure, the people he kills he feels really bad about at first, and they’re not in on the plan and try to kill them first, but it happens nonetheless. They eventually get to the end, and they say “Screw all of this. Let’s run off.” And as soon as the protagonists stop caring about “National army vs. rebels,” we stop caring too! They’re not going back to find out what happens! The audience ends up just as informed as they are!

_So I would be remiss to mention this movie and not bring up the stunning cinematography. The movie is just gorgeous. I’ve never seen The Aviator, but the fact that it beat out Flying Daggers in the Oscars that year is just a crock. Everything is just so beautiful. The colors are so lush, and there are so many of them. You can spend scenes just picking out all of the different shades of greens or yellows or blues you can see. Even when the scene goes monotone, you can easily spot individual items and people because the saturation and values are so varied within a single shot. Just gorgeous.

_I wouldn’t consider myself any kind of expert on martial arts films or wuxia or Hong Kong cinema or anything. Not even close. But I do enjoy them and have seen a few of them in my time. The final fight scene between Andy Lau and Samonosuke is fantastic. It’s not two men fighting for their country or their ideals…just over a woman. Since the dawn of time, isn’t that the only real reason to ever beat the shit out of anybody? The only other acceptable alternative would be fighting over a man, I guess.

So both actors really put forth that this battle is nothing but pure unbridled passion. It’s not that there’s no form or anything, I mean, it’s Hong Kong martial arts, of course there’s beauty and form, but there’s a noticeable contrast between the elegant grace of the moves from earlier in the film to this final scene. The score is generally muted, just the hard grunts and yells of two men swinging away with fury. As the fight progresses, each man begins to forgo defense more and more to strike more blows on their opponent. The fight just has a great progression, and the tone is a great way to set it apart and cap off the movie.

_Let me also mention here how hilarious I find it that Andy Lau is such a huge musical star in Hong Kong. Like…there’s no American equivalent for someone that successful as both a musician and actor. It’d be like if Michael Jackson from Off the Wall to HIStory was simultaneously having Denzel Washington’s acting career. Only Asian. And named Andy Lau. It’s awesome. Andy Lau is awesome.


_Tune in next time for some lighter hearted fare with Cadet Kelly. See you~

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