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“House of Flying Daggers” by Zhang Yimou

House of Flying Daggers is a film directed by Zhang Yimou. The picture was released in 2004 and was nominated for an Oskar for the best cinematography in 2005. It combines the genres of action, drama, adventure film, and wuxia. The plot develops around the adventures of Chen, a young police officer who accompanies the blind daughter of the House of Flying Daggers old clan leader, hoping to find and defeat the clan.

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The events of the film take place in the 8th century AD, after the reign of the prosperous Tang Dynasty was over, and the new emperor, unable to rule, came to power. Organizations whose members were skilled in martial arts, in particular the House of Flying Daggers, took responsibility for Chinese citizens. Imperial police have already killed the old leader of the clan and are hunting for the new one. Chen goes to the Peony Garden brothel to find a girl connected to the clan.

My favorite part is when Chen and his boss Leo come to the Peony Garden and arrest the girl whose name is Xian Mein. She does not want to reveal the location of the new leader, so Leo develops a tricky plan – he orders Chen to kidnap Xian Mein as if to free her, which he does. Thus begins their long journey through the beautiful mountains, forests, and valleys of China. The soldiers of the imperial army pursue Chen and Xiang Mei, so there are plenty of battles. On this background unfolds their romance, which ends tragically.

The intended audience of the film is the general audience and fans of martial arts. House of Flying Daggers differs from Zhang Yimou’s early arthouse, dissident works.1 It is his second after the Hero full-blown picture, which brought him recognition of the general public and $ 90 million box office worldwide. I have chosen this film because of its strengths, which include the twisted plot, convincing play of actors, and spectacular fights.

The film conveys a feeling of joy and lightness thanks to high-quality cameraman work, authentic costumes, and breathtaking mountain scenery. Nonetheless, I have to admit that the characters lack depth, which could become a weak side of the film if it was a drama in its purest form. But since the picture combines various genres, it does not matter much. Thus, I recommend this film for watching by the intended and broader audience.

Popular Film Review and Academic Essay – the Main Differences

In the given film review, all the necessary structural elements are present. The author assesses the director’s work, relying not only on facts about the director’s artistic career but also presents his unique attitude. Besides, in the given film review, rhetorical figures are used – metaphor, metonymy, synecdoche, epithet, hyperbole, allegory. Thus, film review has a structure that allows the author to have a judgment different from the viewpoint of other connoisseurs of cinema.

Now the differences between the film review and academic essay should be described. First of all, these two types of writings differ in structural elements. The film review consists of a summary and general information about the film, analysis, and evaluation of the director’s work, and assessment of the film’s main strengths and weaknesses. On the opposite, the academic essay includes elements that are not necessary for the film review. They are the introduction, thesis statement, evidence supporting thesis statement, and a conclusion.

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Also, these writings differ in the tone of the narrative – film review can be written in the first person and includes rhetorical figures, while the academic essay has a more formal tone. In a film review, the author primarily uses analysis, while writing an academic essay implies the use of synthesis logical technique. Besides, an academic essay can be supported by quotations and outside opinions, while film review stands on individual assessment. To summarize it, film review and academic essays differ primarily with the composite structural elements, the tone of the narrative, and the underlying logical techniques.


Schultz, Corey Kai Nelson. “Ruin in the films of Jia Zhangke.” Visual Communication 15, no. 4 (2016): 439-460.


Corey Kai Nelson Schultz. “Ruin in the films of Jia Zhangke.” Visual Communication 15, no. 4 (2016), 439.

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