Shi mian mai fu (2004)

Shi mian mai fu (2004)

Director: Yimou Zhang

Cast: Takeshi Kaneshiro as Jin, Andy Lau as Leo, Ziyi Zhang as Xiao Mei (as Zhang Ziyi), Dandan Song as Yee, Hongfei Zhao as Performer, Jun Guo as Performer, Shu Zhang as Performer, Jiusheng Wang as Performer, Zhengyong Zhang as Performer, Yongxin Wang as Performer, Dong Liu as Performer, Qi Zi as Performer, Xuedong Qu as Performer, Liping Tian as Performer, Hongwei Zhao as Performer

Shi Mian Mai Fu belongs to a growing body of work that embodies a
clearly Asian aesthetic packaged just as clearly for Western
consumption. It is no coincidence that, each time I paused the DVD for
whatever reason, the still image on the screen was as beautiful as any
classic wood block print by Hiroshige or Hokusai. Xiaoding Zhao's
elegant cinematography imbues every scene with haunting beauty. Think
Tak Fujimoto times ten, with no disrespect meant to Fujimoto, who
shoots Western movies and still manages to inject his refined visual
sense into such great films as Silence of the Lambs and Sixth Sense.

Director Yimou Zhang's work in Hero was more epic, more heroic, but
SMMF has a more refined sense of story. The cast, the scenery, the
music, including vocal performances by the legendary Kathleen Battle;
all elements conspire brilliantly to convey subtle and nuanced meaning
in moments. The story, as do all good stories of this genre, revolves
around a delicate interplay of love, betrayal, deception and heroism of
many different kinds, and, oh yes, those stunning ballets of combat
layered with evocative sounds and effects.

In a nutshell, the plot goes something like this. A beautiful blind
showgirl is captured as a spy. Her captors conspire to trick her into
leading them to her leader. Along the way, both hunter and quarry
become entangled in a web of subterfuge and deception. Add in a
beautifully tragic romantic story line, again, as all such movies must
have, and never forget that the essence of all truly great tragedy is

This movie is also known as Ambush From Ten Sides, and in that more
literal translation of its title you will find its essence. A worthy
successor to Hero, though not as magnificent as Crouching Tiger Hidden
Dragon, in which Ziyi Zhang gives the performance of a lifetime and the
one against all her other roles will be judged, and in this case, fall
short, House of Flying Daggars is nevertheless a feast for the senses
and a fully satisfying cinematic experience.

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