Having mastered the 'Eight Diagram Pole,' Liu has the upper hand in a clearing until Lau takes to the bamboo trees to use them as a shield against Liu's pole work. Mei, whom Jin has commanded to dance, stands in the center of the room, waiting for her cue. However, Liu simply applies his kung fu skills to the bamboo and turns Lau's bamboo shield against him in crippling fashion. He's seen as a carefree laborer harvesting the stalks while in perfect harmony with them, playing a flute fashioned from a small stalk as the remaining stalks sway in unison to the music. House of Flying Daggers is a 2004 wuxia film directed by Zhang Yimou. Yet this setting often has a special part to play.
The two begin sparring in a desperate fight to the death. It's a good job the whole film wasn't like that or I'd have been pissed. It stars Ziyi Zhang - the actress formerly known as Zhang Ziyi - while the story involves intense romance, tangled yet gossamer-delicate webs of deception and tearjerking tragedy. The bamboo forest is a common sight in parts of Asia, or once was and to see it as the setting for a period martial arts movie should not be unusual. The tone here is very different from every other selection on this list.
Abandoning both the dramatic promise of the Flying Daggers conflict and the romantic tension of the love triangle, Zhang takes a stab at operatic tragedy that fails to generate any real sense of grandeur or dramatic weight. Mei nearly defeats him in a spiraling, whirling duel: Though she's unable to see, she's a masterful, agile fighter. One of the deputies' senior officers, Leo has sent Kaneshiro's Jin, an unreasonably handsome soldier whose sex appeal is far more lethal than any sword he carries, to the brothel to ensnare Mei. They were all over the place. How could you not care about an outlaw band of Merry Men-like resistance fighters living in hiding in the forest, working to oppose a corrupt, oppressive government regime? The fight is hyper-stylized and quite different visually from the standard wuxia sword duel.
So much is this the case, in fact, that the last time we hear tell of them, the warriors called the Flying Daggers are about to get into this huge climactic battle with the enemy soldiers, whom we see advancing slowly into the bamboo forest where the Flying Daggers are hiding… at which point the story cuts to another plot thread, never to return. This scene is one of the first elaborate bamboo sword fights to be staged onscreen with such intensity and sophisticated martial artistry for its day. And then, suddenly, a stranger swathed in black rescues her from her cell. The actors and blood are greatly highlighted on a whiteout background. Wang and his followers are ambushed in a bamboo grove by assassins who leap out of the ground. Although they both resist it, they fall deeply in love.
Yet, while narrowing his focus, Zhang allows repetition to creep in, batting his protagonists back and forth between the same few admittedly gorgeous locations without Hero's neat narrative-trick excuse for doing the same. Finally, this non-diagetic music can be compared to that of Lord of the Rings. This subtly suggests to the audience that all is still not what it seems, and that there will still be twists in the plot to come. Bamboo forest fights in traditional kung fu movies are rare, but do occur as evidenced by this film. The effect of this is that the audience feels nervous because of the silence, as something is bound to break it soon. It's Jin in disguise -- his motives become clearer as the story winds through its numerous interlocking twists and turns -- and the two of them escape through the forest.
Her loud screaming punctuates the quiet, and so the scene is filled with louder and fiercer sounds. Zhang speaks to us through the details, in the way a flying dagger pierces a single droplet of blood suspended in air, or the way a fight sequence begins in autumn and continues well into winter, the weary warriors lunging through drifts of snow to get at one another -- it's as if they've been at each other's throats not just for minutes but for months or even years. It reminds us that there's no greater moviegoing pleasure than to give ourselves wholly and willingly to the picture in front of us. But as Mei begins to dance, her arms elongated by ribbonlike sleeves of pink chiffon that swirl and snake around her, we realize she has taken possession of the whole room. Like we said, it's amazing what you can do with bamboo.
She remains resourceful, however, because she wards them off for as long as possible using a stick of bamboo and therefore demonstrates resourcefulness. Everything around the actors -- the sound, the colors, the lush scenery -- is still firmly in place, yet it may as well have dropped away. Always looking for new and interesting ways to show martial arts fights, for the past fifty years action filmmakers have used bamboo and the forests it grows in as an instrumental part of their storytelling and action choreography. Although dueling kung fu fighters have been used countless times to open a movie, it has rarely looked this good. And besides, that's not really the comparison we should be thinking about. In House of Flying Daggers, Ching has combined his years of experience with Zhang's artistic and dramatic sensibilities to create one of the most exciting and beautiful bamboo forest fights ever. Patent and Trademark Office as a trademark of Salon Media Group Inc.
The lush beauty of the surrounds, the sound of light wind rustling the trees and Peter Pau's poetic score further enhance this struggle which becomes an exercise in futility on Jen Yu's part as Mu-bai's tranquility wins. The third-act revelation marathon may challenge attention spans, but that's the only complaint. Then Wang knocks Lo into several stalks that act as a springboard to hurl Lo's body over Wang and onto another stalk that he clings to. Another one to look for that didn't make the list, but deserves to is Challenge of the Masters 1976 where Gordon Liu battles Lau Kar-leung in a bamboo forest. This furthers the idea that sadness is destined to follow the bamboo forest fight scene in House of Flying Daggers, and the music prepares the audience for what is to come. The only detractor here is that the forest itself looks rather sparsely populated.
The leader of the House of Flying Daggers has recently been killed by the local deputies, but the organization continues to thrive. Near the end of the film, a fight scene is set in a blizzard. It differs from other wuxia films in that it is more of a love story than a straight martial arts film. Impressive use of panda-feed aside, anyone who's seen Hero and Crouching Tiger will be on very familiar territory with Flying Daggers. The scene is punctuated by a nasty death by bamboo impaling.
The movie is full of sumptuous looking action sequences, with some blood, and an unforgettable, gorgeous dance sequence. Leung is a natural screen fighter while Wong is a gifted leg fighter and their pairing here sets a high standard that Sammo maintains throughout the film. He asks why her name is so simple, when all the other ladies in the establishment go by elaborate flower names. The combined effect of these is to emphasise Chinese culture to make its historical side feel more immersive. The use of strong colours is again a signature of Zhang Yimou's work. Tang captains Leo Lau and Jin Kaneshiro are charged with capturing the House's new leader, and suspect that a young dancer at the Peony Pavilion, blind girl Mei Zhang , may be their key to success.