For the second time this year, American audiences are being treated to a martial arts epic by the acclaimed Chinese director Zhang Yimou. But where Hero was a perfect title for a movie about a courageous warrior's quest for vengeance, the title of the new film, House of Flying Daggers, is misleading. In Japan, it is more appropriately titled The Lovers. Daggers is a more colorful choice, but The Lovers correctly identifies the focus of the film.
Set during the Tang dynasty, 859 A.D, Daggers follows the rapidly accelerating romance between Jin (Takeshi Kaneshiro), a police deputy in service of the emperor, and Mei (Hero's Zhang Ziyi), a woman who belongs to an undercover resistance effort called House of Flying Daggers, a group of powerful warriors who, like the famous "Merry Men," steal from the rich and give to the poor.
Jin first encounters Mei while investigating rumors that a brothel called Peony Pavilion is harboring a Flying Daggers agent. Enthusiastic about his assignment, he poses as a customer and teases the beautiful courtesans until they introduce him to "the new girl." He's astonished by Mei's beauty, but even more so by the fact that she is blind.
Overcome with lust, Jin nearly rapes Mei right there in full view of everyone, and he has to be apprehended by his superior officer, Leo (Andy Lau), who proceeds to test Mei himself. What follows is one of several applause-worthy sequences—a dance challenge called "the Echo Game" that might as well be titled "Dance of the Very Long Sleeves." Mei may be blind, but her hearing, her intuition, and her dancing are almost superhuman.
But her beauty may be her strongest weapon. It inspires a rescue that enables her to flee into the wilderness with an unlikely companion—Jin. ...1