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House of Flying DARTS

Out in selected Toronto theatres this weekend, HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS is an assault of lush cinematography and beautiful people fighting and loving each other.

Set during the Tang Dynasty, Andy Lau plays the captain determined to infiltrate the House of Flying Daggers, a rebel group protesting the corrupted government. Takeshi Kaneshiro is handsomely dashing as the soldier on a quest to seduce the blind beauty Mei played by the now more mature and grown up Zhang ZiYi

Sigh, I don't care.

When I first saw this film during press time at the Toronto International Film Festival, I loved it. I was a sucker for romantic tragedy stories most Asian films are renouned for. It was visually breathtaking and far more mainstream than the director's previous work HERO. The new, rather fluffy entertainment left me at least in the movie chair for the entire duration.

The second time I saw it, I couldn't even sit through. Gone was all the passion and excitement from the initial viewing and I was left quite unsatisfied, with a very dry feeling in my mouth.

What was it that bothered me?

Was it because my friend cried in agony, "Zhang ZiYi's a F*ing martyr ... AGAIN!" or was it because Zhang Yimou, the director, thought to invest more in storytelling rather than the overtly stunning visual sequences to dismal results. It was as if the movie was a moving target with its cast members desperately trying to hit the bullseye to wasted efforts.

I've seen better from Zhang Yimou. (Watch THE ROAD HOME, also starring Zhang ZiYi.) I've also seen better from Asian cinema in general. So while it is up for Best Foreign Film from the Golden Globes, my money is on the Mexican motorcycling revolutionary.

Still overall, the fact remains, Takeshi Kaneshiro is HOT. Zhang ZiYi, all grown up here, still pouts like a priss, ironically, not wanting to put out. And while I'll suspend my reality for the ick factor of pairing her against veteran actor, the great Andy Lau who's 20 years her senior, even HE is unable to save this movie.

My advice, watch it once on the big screen. And cherish it that way, because just like a one-night stand ... it is never the same the second time around.


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