Sunday, February 13, 2005

House of Flying Monkeys

I accompanied my boyfriend to a showing of House of Flying Daggers this weekend. I now wish that I had not convinced him to give this film a shot and had instead gone with our initial impulse and seen Bad Education. As a Netflix member and severe tightwad, I try to only watch movies in the theater if I cannot wait for video or if the film in question seems like it would lose something in the translation to a small screen. Action movies seem to require big-screen treatment, so I agitated for HoFD. What a fool I am. (Some mild spoilers follow.)

Unlike Will, I enjoyed Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, although I thought it was a bit too long and tried to pack in too many sequences. HoFD is the same length as CT,HD but managed to both drag at the beginning and end abruptly. The film leaves many questions unanswered: the identity of the true leader of the Daggers, the outcome of the final battle between the rebels and the government, even the purpose of the Daggers' existence (they appear to be standard Robin Hood types, but what sort of government do they wish to replace the weak emperor with? ).

All this is set aside so we can follow the love triangle between Mei, a blind dancer who is not what she seems (those who enjoyed Rutger Hauer's 1980s cheese tour de force Blind Fury will appreciate her early scenes; others may scoff); Jin, a county captain of police who organizes a fake prison rescue forMei so she can lead him back to her contacts with the Daggers; and Mei's old flame, who has been in a deep-cover assignment for three years with the objective of impressing Mei, and who will not take rejection well. I found the acting of the two male leads quite good, but was struck by the implausibility of the love bond's rapid formation. And if you know your stalker is a keen hand with magical Patriot missile type heat seeking daggers, why make it obvious that you're abandoning him for a government stooge?

All in all, HoFD is not as action packed as you might expect, and the love story lacks emotional punch. Unless you are a real fiend for costumes or cinematography, wait for DVD.
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