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House of Flying Daggers (2004)

Shi mian mai fu (original title)
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A romantic police captain breaks a beautiful member of a rebel group out of prison to help her rejoin her fellows, but things are not what they seem.

Director:

Yimou Zhang

Writers:

Feng Li, Bin Wang | 1 more credit »
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 22 wins & 68 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Takeshi Kaneshiro ... Jin
Andy Lau ... Leo
Ziyi Zhang ... Xiao Mei (as Zhang Ziyi)
Dandan Song ... Yee
Hongfei Zhao Hongfei Zhao ... Performer
Jun Guo Jun Guo ... Performer
Shu Zhang Shu Zhang ... Performer
Jiusheng Wang ... Performer
Zhengyong Zhang Zhengyong Zhang ... Performer
Yongxin Wang Yongxin Wang ... Performer
Dong Liu Dong Liu ... Performer
Qi Zi Qi Zi ... Performer
Xuedong Qu Xuedong Qu ... Performer
Liping Tian Liping Tian ... Performer
Hongwei Zhao Hongwei Zhao ... Performer
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Storyline

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 <makzax@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for sequences of stylized martial arts violence, and some sexuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

China | Hong Kong

Language:

Mandarin

Release Date:

14 January 2005 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

House of Flying Daggers See more »

Filming Locations:

Beijing, China See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

CNY100,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$397,472, 5 December 2004

Gross USA:

$11,050,094

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$92,863,945
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

It is China's official choice for the 2004 Oscar Awards, Foreign Language film category. See more »

Goofs

During the battle in the flower field Jin is wounded behind his left thigh. Near the end when he leaves Mei, he is limping on the wrong leg. See more »

Quotes

Leo: [referring to Jin] I sacrificed three years for you. How could you love him after only three days?
See more »

Crazy Credits

The Chinese theatrical release has a Chinese translation of the ending song (which has lyrics in English) on the left side of the screen during the credits. See more »

Alternate Versions

The US version has blood reduced or digitally painted out of some of the fight scenes in order to secure a PG-13 rating. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Codes of Gender (2010) See more »

Soundtracks

Lovers
Music and lyrics by Shigeru Umebayashi
Performed by Kathleen Battle
Played during the closing credits
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

Meticulously crafted
12 January 2005 | by harry_tk_yungSee all my reviews

Treading merrily along the path of Hollywoodization (pardon my expression) started in Ying Xiong, director Zhang Yimou turned out another equally meticulously crafted product, Shi Mian Mai Fu, which was showcased to the world in the 2004 Cannes 'out of competition' category.

Meticulously crafted, SMMF starts by giving the audience an exceptional feast of the ear, putting them in a blind person's POV (or maybe I should say POH, 'H' for hearing). The duel of drums scene is brilliant. As if that is not enough, we are treated to another feast of sounds, this time the thundering hoofs and clashing weapon in the pursuit and attack of the blind girl.

Even more meticulously crafted is the color display. A top-notch cinematographer (Yellow Earth (1984)) before a director, Zhang does not appear to be able to tolerate anything that falls short of atheistic perfection. Although not as blatantly as in Ying Xiong, he exhibits here a color display that is equally dazzling. The landscape in the first couple of scenes is in mellowed brown, yellow and pale green. Then come the lush green hills and the dreamy world of the bamboo forest. Towards the end, we have a white birth forest and, for no apparent reason, are given a frame of only two seconds of a fiery stretch of fall colors. In the finale, the ominous dark clouds eventually produce a winter wonderland, to receive profuse splashes of crimson blood.

Crafted sight and sound is great, but over-crafted script and story is where SMMF falls down. In the show that I attended, the audience burst out in a clearly audible expression of mirth where none was intended by the script. I do recognize that this was due in part to the fact that they know Andy Lau too well. But then, some of the things were thrust at the audience so abruptly that I think their reaction is forgivable.

In a nutshell, Flying Dagger is no Crouching Tiger as Zhang Yimou lacks the heart, soul and sensitivity of Ang Lee. I remember watching a TV interview of Zhang a couple of years ago, when he intimated something to the effect that making movie is a market-driven affair and if the (global) market wants it, he'll make it. Well, he is at least honest about the whole thing and he did make Ying Xiong. But I do miss director Zhang's earlier work: Red Sorghum, Raise the Red Lantern, Qiu Ju Goes to Court, Living, Not One Less, My Father and Mother.

One final point of no particular consequence. Shi Mian Mai Fu (literal translation 'Ambushed on Ten Sides') is the best known piece of music for the lute-like pipa. I notice that three or four bars from the piece are featured in the background music, at the point when the blind girl's true identity is revealed.

Thank goodness it didn't get the Golden Globe....would have been SUCH an embarrassment if it did.


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