The movie opens with a reference to corruption in the Tang Dynasty, which is on its last legs. The use of strong colours is again a signature of Zhang Yimou's work. Alas, that opportunity has been largely squandered. The leader of the House of Flying Daggers has recently been killed by the local deputies, but the organization continues to thrive. But Leo subdues and captures her, bringing her back to headquarters, where he threatens her with torture unless she reveals the secrets of the House of Flying Daggers. Diagetic sounds are introduced in the form of birds, to establish the setting to the audience. Another scene uses bright yellow as a colour theme.
In the Tang dynasty, these often had a square base, which is reflected in the square floor on which Mei performs the echo game. The forest itself is beautiful and Hu makes full use of it as stars Hsu Feng and Pai Ying team up against two swordsmen, weaving among the stalks as their blades cross. For this gambit to work, the protagonists would have had to be noble, larger-than-life, but tragically flawed figures; but what they actually are, in the end, is rather pathetic — and pathos is fatal to grand tragedy. She remains resourceful, however, because she wards them off for as long as possible using a stick of bamboo and therefore demonstrates resourcefulness. But the picture isn't an empty spectacle. In this instance, both appear in the film.
Analysis of the use of sound House of Flying Daggers Yimou Zhang 2004 China House of flying Daggers uses both enriching colour and intriguing sounds to capture and maintain its audience. Clearly concerned that his last movie's fight sequences, while astonishing, neglected the versatile plant, he's gone all-out here, sending an entire army into a forest, leaping from shoot to shoot, and even getting his combatants to slice off segments of cane and hurl them through the air as deadly weapons. The fight is hyper-stylized and quite different visually from the standard wuxia sword duel. The film basically opens with a signature bamboo fight scene that also acts to establish Andy Lau's playful character and killer kung fu skills. The scene is punctuated by a nasty death by bamboo impaling. Enter Maggie Cheung and a band of rebels who are cut off by the stalks as they close around the horsemen in what turns out to be an elaborate ambush by assassins tunneling underground. This green uniform could also be a reference to the fact that the Flying Daggers used a brothel as a way of gathering information.
Several scenes in a bamboo forest completely fill the screen with green. Tang captains Leo Lau and Jin Kaneshiro are charged with capturing the House's new leader, and suspect that a young dancer at the Peony Pavilion, blind girl Mei Zhang , may be their key to success. The catch is that it ultimately turns out to be a less than entirely fitting name for the film that Zhang actually made. In my bamboo forest, the battle takes place simultaneously on the ground and high up on the bamboo. Mei, the blind daughter of the old leader, is dancing at the town brothel.
The director of photography here is Xiaoding Zhao; the picture was filmed in Ukraine. The various twists and revelations are also laid on too thick and packed in too tightly towards the end, weighing down the final act and matting out the glittering promise of the first hour. In House of Flying Daggers, Ching has combined his years of experience with Zhang's artistic and dramatic sensibilities to create one of the most exciting and beautiful bamboo forest fights ever. Mei has just left Jin and segregated herself in the forest, and the silence shows her isolation from the world. Only honor and Fong's onscreen wife are at stake and they fight with bamboo sticks rather than real swords. This unconventional move gives Lo the tactical advantage as he drops down and lays into a stunned Wang who can only counter by using bamboo within reach as a weapon, first to pierce Lo with a sharpened stalk and then to strangle Lo with as it splinters and cuts into his neck. So of course, if I was going to make an action film, I also had to shoot in the bamboo forest, to keep with tradition.
The actors and blood are greatly highlighted on a whiteout background. It reminds us that there's no greater moviegoing pleasure than to give ourselves wholly and willingly to the picture in front of us. Lau takes to the trees as the stalks seemingly come to life. After dispatching several attackers, he launches into a wild spinning aerial move in order to chop down dozens of trees, thus raining down sharpened stalks on his foes. For a wuxia sword fight, it's remarkably realistic and relies more on Hu's editing than on elaborate wire use.
Near the end of the film, a fight scene is set in a blizzard. The assassins successfully wield their stalks as weapons until Lau intercedes with his bamboo chopper in hand. And for that alone Zhang should be proud, while we - not to mention the world's bamboo growers - should be grateful. The movie, though, cares strongly who gets the girl — on a disconcertingly basic level. Another one to look for that didn't make the list, but deserves to is Challenge of the Masters 1976 where Gordon Liu battles Lau Kar-leung in a bamboo forest. Leung is a natural screen fighter while Wong is a gifted leg fighter and their pairing here sets a high standard that Sammo maintains throughout the film.
The sound also hints at another side to Mei. The two begin sparring in a desperate fight to the death. But as a piece of filmmaking, it's as crisp and as slithery as a piece of silk, weaving its way around and through multiple genres as it blurs and softens any hard divisions between them. The wind -- which Jin considers his alter ego -- travels with Jin and Mei like a discreet but always present accomplice; we hear it, and other forest sounds, as Mei does, quietly intensified. One of the early scenes is a flashback to an earlier fight between Alex Fong and the great Sonny Chiba. It's Jin in disguise -- his motives become clearer as the story winds through its numerous interlocking twists and turns -- and the two of them escape through the forest. It is used as a re-affirming sound as well however, and seems to spur on Mei to fight harder, giving the audience hope.
The effect of this is that the audience feels nervous because of the silence, as something is bound to break it soon. Mei, whom Jin has commanded to dance, stands in the center of the room, waiting for her cue. She's about to perform for Jin Takeshi Kaneshiro , a local deputy who has come, undercover, to arrest her. The audience are relieved to see him, as the music informs them that he is there to rescue Mei, not help the soldiers. Chan Ping is a pregnant martial arts heroine confronted by a dagger-throwing attacker perched high up in a bamboo tree.
The sound is uncomfortably high, and so puts the spectator on edge. It differs from other wuxia films in that it is more of a love story than a straight martial arts film. And then, suddenly, a stranger swathed in black rescues her from her cell. Her loud screaming punctuates the quiet, and so the scene is filled with louder and fiercer sounds. The bamboo forest is a common sight in parts of Asia, or once was and to see it as the setting for a period martial arts movie should not be unusual.