January 6th, 2005
I was looking forward to House of Flying Daggers quite a bit: after greatly enjoying Hero late last year I was relieved that Zhang Yimou's follow-up had avoided a similarly delayed UK release. For all my anticipation, I have to confess that I was a little disappointed in House of Flying Daggers. It's by no means a bad film, and to be honest I'm having problems putting my finger on the reason I felt it to be a letdown. Somehow House of Flying Daggers just didn't grab me in the way the earlier film did, so it felt over-long in places, to the point where I found myself checking the time once or twice towards the end during a certain ludicrously prolonged death scene; if you thought Trinity's death in The Matrix Revolutions took too long then you'll hate this one.
Which is not to say that there weren't some lovely moments – my favourite being a scene involving a running battle in the bamboo forest which would have looked right at home in Hero – and I have to admit that the performances of the three leads were just fine. It's just that somehow the spectacle and the melodramatic plot didn't quite do it for me this time round. I realise that I'm in a minority on this. Perhaps I just wasn't in the right mood or something.
Alternatively, allow me to completely blow whatever credibility I may have as a cineaste and martial arts connoisseur by noting that I had much more fun this evening watching John Carpenter's Big Trouble in Little China for the umpteenth time on TV than I did watching House of Flying Daggers last night. There, I've said it. And soon Google and the Internet Archive will pick that comment up and the evidence of my lack of taste will be preserved forever. How's that for an epitaph?