House of Flying Daggers (2004)

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House of Flying Daggers (2004) poster

Date Created: 02/01/2013
Date Modified: 25/06/2018
Runtime: - -
House of Flying Daggers is a 2004 wuxia romance film directed by Zhang Yimou and starring Andy Lau, Zhang Ziyi and Takeshi Kaneshiro. Unlike other wuxia films, it is more of a love story than purely a martial arts film. The film opened in limited release within the United States on 3 December 2004, in New York City and Los Angeles, and opened on additional screens throughout the country two weeks later. The film was chosen as China's entry for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film for the year 2004, but was not nominated in that category; instead, it received a nomination for the 2004's Academy Award for Best Cinematography.
Budget: $12 million
Box office: $92.9 million
Plot: In AD 859, as the Tang Dynasty declines, several rebel groups are established, the largest of which is the House of Flying Daggers, based in Fengtian, who battle the corrupt government that oppresses the people. Its members steal from the rich and give to the poor, gaining the support of the locals. Two police officers, Leo (Andy Lau) and Jin (Takeshi Kaneshiro)—who are best friends—are ordered to kill the leader of the group within ten days, a task that appears to be impossible as no one knows who the leader of the House of the Flying Daggers is. To accomplish this, Leo arrests Mei (Zhang Ziyi), a blind dancer who is suspected of being the previous leader's daughter. Jin proceeds to assault the jail and set Mei free, pretending that he is a rebel sympathizer, an act which gains Mei's trust. As Mei and Jin travel to the Flying Dagger headquarters, Leo trails behind with reinforcements. Unfortunately, Mei and Jin fall in love. To make the deception more realistic, Leo and his men pretend to ambush the pair. Later, though, they are ambushed for real by a different group. At a secret meeting, Leo explains that the military has gotten involved and wants Jin and Mei dead. A few days later, Jin and Mei are ambushed again, but they are saved by the House of Flying Daggers and taken to their headquarters. At this point, Mei is revealed to be not really blind, and furthermore, she is engaged to Leo, who is secretly a Flying Dagger member. The Flying Daggers are not afraid of the military, but are looking forward to an open battle. A heartbroken Leo tells Mei that he waited for her for three years since he went undercover to infiltrate the police, and asks how she could fall in love with Jin after only three days, only to be told she has her heart set on Jin. Leo tries to rape Mei, but Mei's superior throws a dagger into Leo's back. Shortly after, Mei is told to execute Jin for being a police officer. She frees him instead, but refuses to desert the House to join him. Half an hour later, Mei suddenly changes her mind and rides after Jin, but is ambushed by Leo, who casts two daggers at her. Mei manages to deflect one of them while the other pierces her breast. At this point, Jin discovers Leo and the two of them fight, but their skills are too evenly matched. A raging blizzard suddenly falls upon them, while the military assaults the House. Finally, Leo pulls the dagger out of his back and threatens to throw it at Jin. Mei threatens to pull the dagger out of her breast and throw it at Leo, which would cause her to die from blood loss, but Jin begs her to protect her own life. After several tense moments, Leo decides to pretend to throw his dagger, intending to die to Mei's dagger. To his great surprise, Mei uses her own dagger to intercept Leo's dagger in flight. The result is that neither Leo nor Jin dies, but only Mei. In the end, Leo stumbles away in guilt while Jin cries over Mei's dead body, singing a song praising her as a "rare beauty", the likes of which he will never see again. The question of whether the House won against the military is left ambiguous.
House of Flying Daggers
House of Flying Daggers poster.JPG
Theatrical release poster
MandarinShí Miàn Mái Fú
CantoneseSap6 Min6 Maai4 Fuk6
Directed byZhang Yimou
Produced by
  • William Kong
  • Zhang Yimou
Written by
  • Li Feng
  • Peter Wu
  • Wang Bin
  • Zhang Yimou
  • Andy Lau
  • Zhang Ziyi
  • Takeshi Kaneshiro
Music byShigeru Umebayashi
CinematographyZhao Xiaoding
Edited byLong Cheng
Production companies
  • Edko Films
  • Elite Group Enterprises
  • Zhang Yimou Studio
  • Beijing New Picture Films
Distributed by
  • Edko Films (Hong Kong)
  • Sony Pictures Classics (US)
Release date
  • 19 May 2004 (2004-05-19) (Cannes)
  • 15 July 2004 (2004-07-15) (Hong Kong)
  • 16 July 2004 (2004-07-16) (China)
Running time
119 minutes[1]
  • China
  • Hong Kong
Budget$12 million
Box office$92.9 million