House of Flying Daggers—Columbia/TriStar

Video: 5
Audio: 5
Extras: 2

House of Flying Daggers is, in many ways, similar to many other martial-arts movies you've seen (most notably, the crazily popular Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon). It has all of the action and incredible fight sequences we've come to expect from the best Hong Kong exports. From a visual standpoint, though, it has more in common with the stylized color works of Japanese director Akira Kurosawa. And what visuals they are. In Hero, director Yimou Zhang used massive amounts of color. Sometimes entire shots would be one color. Here, that is rarely the case, but color is no smaller a tool—just a more finely honed one. The story is of a love affair between an assassin and a policeman as a war builds around them.

The 2.35:1 anamorphic transfer is excellent, and the vibrant colors come through with strength. The film is a beauty to behold. Sound choices are Dolby Digital 5.1 in Mandarin, English, or French. The Mandarin track seems to have a slightly better mix. Overall, there is lovely surround work with strong bass. The drum-dance scene is an excellent audio demo to play for your friends.

Actress Zhang Ziyi and the director provide commentary. My Mandarin is a bit rusty, but I'm guessing they're talking about the movie. There is a making-of (also in Mandarin, with English subtitles) and a featurette about the special effects. Otherwise, there isn't much on the disc, but the movie is well worth a watch and makes a good demo for your system.