House of Flying Daggers: Bai Xiao Yan
Vickie An
April 19, 2005 AT 04:00 AM EDT

In the visually stunning Tang Dynasty-centered House of Flying Daggers, the multitalented Ziyi Zhang (she sings! she dances! she flings daggers with chilling accuracy!) plays Mei, a blind, butt-kicking heroine whose membership in a band of Robin Hood-esque revolutionaries earns her a spot on the government’s naughty list. Now on the lam, Mei and her dashing, secretive guide (Takeshi Kaneshiro) combat more than just bamboo-spear-wielding soldiers: Clashing allegiances cause them to fight against their own inevitably blooming romance. The Oscar-nominated cinematography certainly captivates, but it’s the unfolding tale of doomed love that lifts House of Flying Daggers to extraordinary heights.

EXTRAS Two mediocre making-of featurettes, one lacking explanatory narration and another overridden with fruitless observations like ”Storyboards turn imaginary scenes into reality.” And you can skip the blah ”Lovers” video with its pseudo-Sears portrait studio backdrop. But the revealing commentary by Zhang and director Zhang Yimou offers amusing tidbits, like the reason behind Kaneshiro’s subtle peanut popping (so that the audience will recognize him both with and without his hat).

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