(mouse over image after page loads to see Chinese Title)

(aka 'House of Flying Daggers' or 'Shi mian mai fu')

http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/direct-chair/zhang.htm

China 2004

 

  In a form of backwards progression, director Zhang Yimou appears to be moving further away from ‘Art House dramas’ again, towards a kind of superlative ‘Shaw Brothers-ish’ martial arts films. And he does so better than that particular genre has ever seen… ever. ‘Beautiful’ may be an understatement as I doubt I have ever seen anything of such visual splendor ever before. It is eye and ear candy that is still pleasurably ringing my senses.

 

Near the end of the Tang Dynasty, government agents Jin (Takeshi Kaneshiro), know as “The Wind” and Leo (Andy Lau) arrest Mei (Zhang Ziyi), a faux-blind courtesan, who, because of her impossibly choreographed dance and fighting abilities (in a resplendently flowing, long sleeved gown) is suspected of having ties to a revolutionary faction of underground anti-establishment extremists known as The House of Flying Daggers. What follows is a road picture of escape, deception, melodramatic love and intensely acrobatic fighting sequences all within a landscape of vibrant green, orange, yellow and blue colors. Not only is the film visually representative of Zhang’s Hero-esq style but the audio of pounding drums and swishing swords, knives and daggers, snapping bamboo as well as contemplative traditional music compounds the experience to the realm of the unforgettable... and for some I guess - unforgivable. Sure the love-interest aspect of the film is admittedly weak with not enough character development and there is cutaway shot that is never advanced in the plot, but both could be purposeful. Or perhaps it was broadening the narrative too much, stretching it beyond most viewers accessibilities. 

 

Snickers and laughter could be heard through some of the final scenes requiring a more fervent suspension of disbelief. Although many will not rate this film alongside masterpieces like “To Live” and “Raise the Red Lantern”, it has its defined place, if certainly more accessible and verbosely extravagant. I am so fascinated by Zhang’s shift of his current films that I am left dumbfounded. I don’t know what to think anymore. Personally, I can’t believe this is a monetary thing – you don’t sell out late in your career (he is only 54 by the way), but usually much earlier to attain the attention of would-be backers for future projects. Perhaps this is what he has always wanted to do – films representative of the time and place he was maturing as a young man - films that were popular with his friends and family ? – or perhaps this is his lost passion... or maybe, just maybe, he is found his calling in appealing to the larger slice of the general populace (This film, like 'Hero' is grotesquely popular in China). Certainly the work ethic and massive co-ordination involved in creating a film like this is awe inspiring. It is possible that the production-challenge is driving him. Regardless, he has proven himself a surprising director capable of anything...  out of

Gary W. Tooze

HERE is another synopsis!

Posters

Theatrical Release:  19 May 2004 (Cannes Film Festival)

Reviews    More Reviews    DVD Reviews

DVD Review: Pathe (UK) - Region 2 - PAL

Big thanks to Geert Jan Alsem for the Review!

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Distribution

Pathe

Region 2 - PAL

Runtime 1:54:16 (4% PAL speedup)
Video

2.35:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 8.51 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio Mandarin DTS 5.1 (1536 Kbps), Mandarin Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 Kbps)
Subtitles English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Pathe

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.35:1

Edition Details:
• Making of documentary
• Visual effects featurette
• 'Lovers' music video
• Commentary by Zhang Yimou and Ziyi Zhang
• Storyboard and film comparisons
• Filming locations
• Costume gallery
• Props gallery
• Photo gallery
• Settings gallery
• Cast and crew biographies
• Trailer and TV spots

DVD Release Date: May 2nd, 2005
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Comments Judging by the comparison located HERE, I don't see any point in adding this to that bloated page to identify that the Pathe UK image is slightly softer - not horrendous but weaker. We've made two comparisons below.

Also this release is cut by 18 seconds, because of what the BBFC says are "three instances of real animal cruelty" (involving falling horses).

It has some interesting extras, but I still lean towards the Starmax for image and the Columbia Tri-Star
HERE for Extras.

 - Gary Tooze and Geert Jan

 

 



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Pathe UK - Region 2- PAL TOP - StarMax - Region 3- NTSC BOTTOM

 

 


 

 

 


 

 

 


 Pathe UK - Region 2- PAL TOP - StarMax - Region 3 - NTSC BOTTOM

 

 


 

 

 


 

 

 


 

 

Recommended Reading in Chinese/Hong Kong/Taiwanese Cinema (CLICK COVERS or TITLES for more information)

 

 

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Distribution

Pathe

Region 2 - PAL

 

 

 




 

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