The House of Flying Daggers

Saw House of the Flying Daggers. Pretty much 80% of it is pretty good--infiltration mission with plot twists, betrayals, a sore testing of loyalties vs. love...but the final confrontation had the audience tittering, and I can't say I blame them; Zhang took some huge risks, here, and while one can salute him for the courage, and salute him for almost pulling it off, one can only look away in embarrassment as he falls flat on his face.

Hero at least had a solid script (even if it is a serious whitewash, historically speaking), with an intriguing prismatic structure; it also had Chris Doyle pulling off what should have been a laughable concept (the single-color sequences). Here the color scheme is more muted, and the eye can't help but notice (what with no gorgeous imagery to distract it) that the CGI effects are really turning martial arts choreography into a push-button effort, where in Liu Chia Liang or Chang Cheh or King Hu's time they actually performed the leaps and high kicks, with clever tricks using wire and trampoline.

And okay, CGI is today, there's no escaping it (or is there? Drunken Master 2 was a refutation of wire fu in favor of more traditional martial arts, and it worked magnificently), but did Zhang's CGI have to be so cliched? Do the flying stones or daggers or bamboo spears have to approach the camera, zoom by like they were Star Destroyers, and speed with unerring accuracy towards their targets? Couldn't someone miss once in a while?

And one of the effects is an idiotic cheat--two daggers flying side-by-side to hide the second one, when it's plain to see that from the target's point of view that both are visible, and should have been blocked accordingly. Zhang didn't even bother to work the fights out according to how the characters would see them...

No comments: