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House Of Flying Daggers (original title: 十面埋伏) is a Wuxia movie directed by Zhang Yimou and released in 2004. Zhang had previously directed another Wuxia flick, Hero, and wanted to explore the genre further. He would later direct Curse of the Golden Flower.The story, set in the waning days of the Tang Dynasty (9th century CE), depicts a love triangle between two soldiers and a young woman suspected of being an agent of a secret society, the titular House of Flying Daggers.The film stars Zhang Ziyi, Takeshi Kaneshiro and Andy Lau.
Author Existence Failure: After Anita Mui's death, Zhang Yimou felt that recasting the role would be disrespectful, so the film's second half was heavily rewritten to downplay her role of the Flying Daggers' leader.
Damsel in Distress: Surprisingly Mei. She's nearly raped by Jin in the first 5 minutes, rescued by Jin several times, etc. Some of it may be an act, though, as she's actually the one manipulating him by feigning helplessness and getting him to feel sincerely protective of her, in order to lead to his eventual capture.
Foreshadowing: Very, very subtle: when Mei is being chased by guards in the forest near the beginning of the movie, notice how close the trees are together. Any blind person would have run into at least several trees- Mei doesn't. This shows that she isn't blind.
Grey and Gray Morality: There isn't much to tell one side from the other in terms of ethics. By the end Leo is certainly on the darker side of the scale, but even then is not entirely unsympathetic. He stayed devoted to Mei through three years of separation, and she fell in love with someone else after three days, despite those being probably being the last days they would have to spend apart if the plan had succeeded. He even says that she could have told him she didn't love him anymore, but her falling for Jin is just too much for him to bear.
Handicapped Badass: Subverted. Mei is certainly a badass, but it turns out she isn't blind.
Holding Hands: used thematically to indicate the bond between characters.
Made of Iron: The only explanation for the absolutely insane resistance to injury Jin and Leo seem to display: to wit, Leo taking a dagger through the back and the multitude of wounds they inflict on one another during the final fight.
Also, once it's revealed that Mei isn't really blind, we never get to see her cut loose in a fight (since she doesn't need to fake any kind of helplessness anymore).
Only a Flesh Wound: Zig-zagged furiously at the ending. Leo is hit in the back with an non-fatal Flying Dagger, is told to go back to his position as a guard (and that the dagger will make his story more convincing), and it doesn't seem to bother him at all, including when he kills Mei with a dagger to the heart. After Jin returns for her, he finds her just fading away, and Leo attacks him. While they fight and cut each other to ribbons, she wakes up, just when Leo pulls the knife out of his back to throw at Jin. She says that if he does, she'll pull the knife out of her heart to kill Leo. Jin points out that if she does, she'll bleed out and die. Leo pretends to throw his knife, she throws hers to block his, and dies. Leo staggers away while Jin holds her in his arms.
The Plan: Mei's capture and escape were part of a convoluted plot to bring about a massive showdown between the loyalist forces and those of the House of Flying Daggers.
Pyrrhic Villainy: Arguable about the villainy considering the Grey and Gray Morality, but Leo accomplished his mission to perfection, but still lost everything along the way and wound up killing the person he loved most.
Revealing Hug: Happens when Leo professes his love for Mei. Behind his back, her expression is completely blank.
Rule of Cool: the titular "flying daggers," which at times pull dramatic u-turns in mid-air.
Scenery Porn: Zhang Yimou's signature style is an overload of lush backgrounds, to the point of chromatic saturation.