House of Flying Daggers (Shi mian mai fu) directed by Yimou Zhang. Official site here.
The Plot: It's the 9th century in China; different groups are challenging the Tang Dynasty, including one known as the "House of Flying Daggers." Jin and Leo are police deputies intent on taking down the rebels. They recently helped assassinate the previous rebel leader; now there are rumors that a new leader is nearby.
The Good: This movie is gorgeous. The colors are brilliant. The choreography of the fighting is breathtaking. And the plot is clever; there are twists and turns as Jin & Leo pursue the rebels. Some you see coming; some you don't. But even the ones you do see coming are interesting, because Jin & Leo don't see them.
The fight scenes are brilliantly choreographed; each step, each move. Sometimes it is two fighters; but sometimes it 3, 4, 20. Intense. And just when I was getting a little snarky in my watching, thinking that the fighting was too "pretty", the final fight scene started. Up to now it had been watching a ballet of swords and daggers and arrows -- and suddenly, a fight to the death with blood and violence and even a headbutt. AWESOME.
Oh, one more thing. So far I've described a beautiful and exciting action movie, and I've left out a key player, Mei. I won't give too much away, but she's blind. And she doesn't just sit back and look pretty. And yes, HOFD has some romance in it.
Oh, and another thing -- Takeshi Kaneshiro is hot. Easy on the eyes.
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