Friday, 23 July 2004

Of flying knives and the King of Bittons

Damn, it's been a long time since I last posted. Oh well, here goes... In the time since my last post, I've watched two movies that have close connections with books and comics (in my mind, that is) - King Arthur and House of Flying Daggers.

King Arthur (the movie) was really bad in MY book. The dialogue was cheesy, the characters were weak, the story was too linear, and the acting was unremarkable. As a movie that is supposed to tell the 'true story' of the legend of King Arthur, it ended up trying to be a Gladiator-Braveheart-Troy clone that tries too hard to be credible.

To tell the truth, even a mindless parody of the legend like Monty Python and the Holy Grail was better than Jerry Bruckheimer's re-imagining (and murder) of the legend (more on Monty Python next time :) )

Anyway, while King Arthur the movie was bad, I asked around and found out that King Arthur BOOKS are pretty good. At least that's what people have been telling me. I personally have just started on T.H. White's The Once and Future King, and it is pretty promising. Here are other King Arthur related books that were recommended to me:
  • The Mists of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley
  • The Pendragon Cycle (Taliesin, Arthur, Merlin, Pendragon & Grail), by Stephen R. Lawhead
  • King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table, by Roger Lancelyn Green

On the other hand, House of Flying Daggers was a great 'wu xia' movie that had captured the elements of wonder and martial arts that I loved so much in the comics I mentioned before in my previous post Spiderman vs the Storm Riders.

My major gripe about the movie is the fact that Andy Lau sticks out like a sore thumb. His pronunciation of Mandarin was pretty weak, and I just don't think he can carry of a Chinese traditional costume as well as he can carry off a suit. His face just looks too... modern.

Other than that, the movie visuals were stunning (it IS a Zhang Yimou movie after all), Zhang Ziyi and Takeshi Kaneshiro gave good performances (Takeshi had some really good lines) and had pretty good chemistry, the fight scenes were good (but not spectacular), and the opening dance sequence was just beautiful.

My favourite part of the movie has to be the flying daggers themselves. I'm not talking about a faction or a group here, but the actual DAGGERS that the fighters threw. I was in awe every time the daggers appeared, soaring through the air, twisting and turning, stabbing and cutting. You could see every detail on the dagger, how it turned, how it punched through wood and flesh, and how each fighter employed the daggers in their own way. Flying daggers (and arrows) were always a favourite of mine when I read the Hong Kong 'wu xia' comics, so to see them come alive on screen was just magical.

My verdict? Although it is not a movie you might want to watch again and again (though some actually might do so), House of Flying Daggers is a movie that simply MUST be seen, if only to see the beautiful scenes and the FLYING DAGGERS! (Yes, I'm obsessed with them to the point that I wish they'd make a replica of it for me to keep at home)


Anonymous said...

I haven't seen this movie and I'm not sure I really want to. I do like Clive Owen; he's a terrific actor and easy on the eye too :) so I might watch it if I'm bored. Looking at the movie clips it's your typical action-adventure flick. Nothing more than that. No delving behind the Arthurian legend. If you're looking for a great King Arthur movie, check out Excalibur directed by John Boorman. This movie has been shown by our TV stations umpteen times so perhaps you have seen it already.

The Visitor said...

The Visitor cannot believe no one has recomended the epitome of all Arthurian legends and books to you: Sir Thomas Mallory's L'morte D'Arthur! sacrilege if you do not read that one! it's pretty thick and heavy though. but no worse than War and Peace.

The Visitor said...

btw, what da heck is Bittons??

Anonymous said...

Bernard Cornwell's trilogy that starts with Winter King is also good. I've read WK but not the rest, but Martin swears by it. (I have not completed the trilogy because altho the spirit is willing, there's just no bloody time!! - DAPHNE LEE from The Places YOu Will Go

Anonymous said...

PS The Mallory book is in verse tho, and while it's good, it's hard-going if you're not a "versey" type of person - just as Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queen is a bit much even if it is a great story! - DAPHNE LEE of The Places You Will Go.