Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5.
Original title: Shi Mian Mai Fu
China/Hong Kong, 2004. Beijing New Picture Film Co., , Edko Films, Elite Group Enterprises, Zhang Yimou Studio. Screenplay by Feng Li, Bin Wang, Yimou Zhang. Cinematography by Xiaoding Zhao. Produced by William Kong, Sook Yhun, Yimou Zhang. Music by Shigeru Umebayashi. Production Design by Tingxiao Huo. Costume Design by Emi Wada. Film Editing by Long Cheng. Academy Awards 2004. Golden Globe Awards 2004. Toronto International Film Festival 2004.
Another stunning martial arts epic from director Zhang Yimou, master of period classics (Raise The Red Lantern) and gritty modern dramas (The Story Of Qiu Ju). Ziyi Zhang stars as a blind assassin who is a covert member of the House Of Flying Daggers, a group of rebels who have banded together to fight the irresponsible and inept emperor who rules the Tang Dynasty of China. When she is captured by authorities and about to be tortured to have information extracted from her, she is saved by a handsome police officer (Takeshi Kaneshiro) who leads her through the forest to her group’s hideout. As time progresses, however, we begin to realize that he is working undercover for his boss and hoping to be led to the House’s secret headquarters in order to trap them. Thankfully, that isn’t the last twist to the emotionally convoluted story, but to reveal more would be unfair. Suffice it to say that the photography is stunning, the sumptuous production design equally so, and the human drama much richer than in Zhang Yimou’s previous effort, Hero. Zhang Ziyi’s performance is terrific, and the action scenes exciting.