House of Flying Daggers

It's about time the men were the damsels in the distress!

The Basics: Hotshot soldier Jin (Takeshi Kaneshiro) is sorely mistaken when he assumes he's in command as an undercover guerilla fighter in this dazzlingly colorful sword-fighting epic that attempts to understand the nature of true love. In order to infiltrate the enemy, Jin flees into the countryside to protect a woman (Zhang Ziyi of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Hero) he thinks is the blind daughter of a fallen rebel leader. He's debonair and courageous, just like heroes should be, and he's even sensitive to the shyness of his female charge when she denies his advances.

The Catch: Despite these trappings, Jin is actually at the mercy of a grand conspiracy of women fighting the rulers of the Tang Dynasty in 7th Century China. And the delicate beauty he thinks he is protecting is actually a martial arts master who can fight off dozens of men with anything at her disposal -- a long silver sword or just the casing for it, a tree branch or the long, willowy sleeves of her traditional robe. She's particularly lethal with the daggers that gave her gang of cohorts their name, "House of Flying Daggers."

Why It's Good: Director Zhang Yimou is best known for his grand historical romances like Raise the Red Lantern and Ju Dou, but has turned lately to the kind of action-adventure motif that made Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon such a hit. Here, he combines the two for a powerful love story set against a brilliant tableau of the Chinese countryside that has all the bang your movie date could ask for.

iVillage Mood Meter: Will inspire fiery passion

Stars: Zhang Ziyi, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Andy Lau
Director: Zhang Yimou
Screenwriters: Wang Bin, Li Feng, Zhang Yimou
Producer: Zhang Weiping Zhang Yimou
Release date: December 1, 2004
Distributor: Sony Picture Classics
Rated: PG-13

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