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DVD Review: HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS

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PHOTOGRAPHY

HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS

DVD Review by David Blackwell

DETAILS: 119 minutes, audio commentary, music video, Making-Of Featurette, Visual Effects featurette, storyboard comparisons, Photo galleries, previews

STUDIO: SONY PICTURES CLASSICS/ SPHE

RELEASE DATE: 4-19-2005

ANALYSIS: Poetry in Motion. HERO was just a snack. HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS is the main course. This martial arts/love story is the movie that impressed in ways that HERO didn't. The martial arts sequences top anything seen in HERO. Even the dance sequences early on in the house of prostitutes stand out. The sequence where beans hit drums and the long sleeves of the blind girls's clothes must hit each drum is amazing. It is very fluid and memorizing. The cinematography is beautiful as it was in HERO. The movie shows off the beautiful locations used (including thekrainian forrest).

Tweo officers in the Tang Dynasty concoct a plan to find the deadly gang known as The house of Flying Daggers. Jin (Takeshi Kaneshiro) decides to go undercover when he breaks Mei (a beautiful blind dancer played nicely by Ziyi Zhang) to find the gang. His partner (Andy Lau) goes along with the plan, but soon it all goes wrong as the General of teh Tang Dynasty has given his soldiers an order to kill Jin and Mei. Jin and Mei fall in love with each other. Will he choose love or go through with his deception?

VIDEO/AUDIO: HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS is presented in 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen. The colors are vibrant and rich. The greens pop off the screen. The blacks are good. Image detail is great. Impressive transfer from SPHE.  The only problem I had with it (and a replacement disc) was that my Sony DVD player has issues with the DVD after the layer change during chapter 16 where it just freezes up and skips.

You can hear HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS in it's original Chinese 5.1 Dolby Digital, English 5.1 DD (English langauge dub) or French 5.1 DD with the option of English or French subtitles. Featurettes and teh commentary are in Chinese with opitional English subtitles. Dialogue is clear. The audio mix is rich. You feel like you're in the envirnoment. The music is strong and sweeping.

SPECIAL FEATURES: The audio commentary (for the movie) with director Zhang Yimou and actress Ziyi Zhang is an interesting listen. You find out many details about the production including the weather being a problem like it was during the making of Zhang Yimou's HERO, Ziyi Zhang's morning routine before she starts work, and Takeshi Kaneshiro falling off his horse.

The 45 Making-Of featurette is overly long featuring too many clips from the movie and EPK fluff among actual information about the production fo the movie with some Behind-The-Scenes video and interviews. The director mentions a snow storm they decided to use in the movie while filming a sword fight, then they had to use snow machines when it stopped snowing too soon (along with some CGI snow). Also footage of the Cannes premiere is included. I just can't get over the Chinese narrator who hypes the movie too much to the point of sucking up. Next is a six minute featurette on the VISUAL EFFECTS of the movie.

The "Lovers" MUSIC VIDEO by Kathleen Battle is included among the extras in addition to two photo galleries: a Costume Gallery and a Production gallery with stills from the production of HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS. Rounding out the extras are previews for HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS, STEAMBOY, MIRROR MASK, and THE FIFTH ELEMENT Ultimat Edition.

FINAL ANALYSIS:  HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS is an amazing movie.  Some may not warm to the love story, but it is a vitakl part to this very lyrical movie.  The DVD is one of the best for a Sony Pictures Classics release.  Now only if Miramax could have done this good of a job on the HERO DVD. 

this DVD review is (c)4-24-2005 David Blackwell and cannot be reprinted without permission. Send all comments to lord_pragmagtic@hotmail.com and look for additional content at http://www.livejournal.com/users/enterlinemedia