House of Flying Daggers (2004)

House Of Flying DaggersNear the end of the Tang Dynasty, police deputies Jin (Takeshi Kaneshiro) and Leo (Andy Lau) tangle with Mei (Ziyi Zhang), a dancer suspected of having ties to a revolutionary faction known as the House of Flying Daggers. Completely bowled over by Mei’s alluring beauty, the deputies concoct a plan to save her from capture, with Jin leading her north on a perilous journey into the unknown. Zhang Yimou directs.

Starring: Takeshi Kaneshiro, Andy Lau, More
Director: Yimou Zhang

Don’t let the movie blurb above throw you off of this movie.  There is way more going on here than this blurb leads you to believe!  House of Flying Daggers is absolutely brilliant.  This film has it all. A Compelling story, well-written minimalist dialogue, exquisite cinematography, special-effects visuals and locations, breathtakingly artful Chinese dance and drumming, martial arts choreography and some of the finest acting that I’ve seen to date!  But most importantly, from this writer’s perspective, is the way it captures the essence of conflict and the very nature of love. Which brings me right to the point of The Seekers Guide To Great Movies.

What’s in it for us?

The message of this story is this:

Life is not about being right, it is about being whole, and one cannot be truly whole without love.

This is what is demonstrated to us by the main characters in this beautiful film. Two characters, whose relationship begins with mutual deception, eventually find themselves deeply in love, in full mutual awareness that they are on opposing sides of an ancient and deadly conflict.  As in any conflict, each side believes that they are right. That is the nature of conflict.

In the face of something that they know is true love, can they choose to exchange the position they have fought for their entire lives, one that is based on fear and hatred, for an alternative position, one of love, that allows them to be whole?

Witness the holding fast to opposing positions, within deadly conflict, in the face of love. There is a moment where two lovers discuss the future. He says, “When can we see each other again?” she says, “We cannot.” “We belong to two opposing sides.” “If we meet again one of us will have to die.”

After watching this film I was asked, “Was that a true story?” After a moment I answered, “it is the most  true story there is!”

This film can show us that if we loosen our grip on positions that keep us in conflict with others, there lies the potential to discover a third common alternative that allows for what really matters in our lives. Being whole rather than being right.

I highly recommend that you watch it with the original Chinese soundtrack with subtitles. You can’t catch the true emotions and degrees of intensity being conveyed by these fine actors if you choose the path of a dubbed in voiceover audio track, in your preferred language.

Remember you are what you watch.

Mark