Universal acclaim - based on 37 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 36 out of 37
  2. Negative: 0 out of 37
  1. 100
    Forget about the plot, the characters, the intrigue, which are all splendid in House of Flying Daggers, and focus just on the visuals.
  2. It's as thrilling and lushly beautiful a movie as has been released all year, matched only by Zhang's epic "Hero." And I think this film is the more powerful.
  3. The most gorgeous movie of the year. This smashing martial-arts romance from Chinese director Zhang Yimou is stunning in other ways, too, like the eroticism that ripples just beneath the surface.
  4. 100
    The movie equivalent of a 12-course feast crammed with unforgettable images and mind-boggling stunts.
  5. It's action opera, sword-and-sorcery song-and-dance, and it's a heart-pumping, jaw-dropping thrill. OK, so I kind of like the thing.
  6. 100
    By turns breathtaking and heartbreaking.
  7. He's (Yimou) like a painter combining bloody reds, sunshine yellows and pale blues in the harmony of a masterpiece.
  8. Reviewed by: Phil Hall
    Quite simply, House of Flying Daggers is a film that sets several new standards for production and entertainment values. It is a wild riot of color, music, passion, action, mystery, pure old-fashioned thrills and even dancing.
  9. 100
    Its exquisiteness can overwhelm in a single sitting.
  10. 100
    House of Flying Daggers finds the great Chinese director at his most romantic in this thrilling martial arts epic that involves a conflict between love and duty carried out to its fullest expression.
  11. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    This is the most intoxicatingly beautiful martial arts picture I've ever seen.
  12. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    The cast list is like a convocation of the Three Chinas: Taiwan's Kaneshiro, Hong Kong's Lau and the mainland's Zhang Ziyi. All are terrific, but the lady shines brightest.
  13. An astonishing combination of spectacle, suspense, martial-arts flash, sublime silliness, anti-gravity action and passionate intensity -- before and after everything else, it's a grand love story.
  14. 100
    Chinese director Zhang Yimou understands perfectly that the small can be epic and awe-inspiring. And, by the way, he knows how to get big, too.
  15. 100
    The sheer joy of letting go as a tale overwhelms your senses and drives the known world away -- that's the story.
  16. 100
    Zhang weaves in both thrilling martial-arts set pieces and stunning studies of period silk tapestry and costume.
  17. An outrageously gorgeous spectacle of balletic aggression. At the same time, it offers something we rarely encounter in a whirling martial-arts extravaganza: a romantic passion that's woven into the very fabric of the action.
  18. A glorious new addition to martial-arts cinema.
  19. I don't know if the many plot swerves withstand a second viewing, but I suspect the meat of the matter – the swooning visuals, the expert choreography, the teasing love story – does.
  20. 88
    Forget "Hero" -- that cult hit was just Zhang Yimou's warm-up for this martial-arts fireball that throws in a lyrical love story, head-spinning fights and dazzling surprises.
  21. 88
    The result is one of the most visually astonishing martial-arts fantasies ever made.
  22. 83
    The second action melodrama released in the United States this year by director Zhang Yimou, and if I prefer the previous one, "Hero," it's partly a matter of degrees.
  23. Reviewed by: Dan Jolin
    This is how action movies should be made.
  24. 80
    The most seamless piece of sensuous expressionism Zhang has created since "Ju Dou" (1990).
  25. A gorgeous entertainment, a feast of blood, passion and silk brocade. But though the picture is full of swirling, ecstatic motion, it is not especially moving.
  26. Reviewed by: Derek Elley
    The tangled tale of love and disguise is awesome in its action sequences but doesn't touch the heart to the same degree.
  27. 80
    You feel wiped and blinded by such ravishment, yet a voice within you asks: Come on, guys, can't you just stop for the holidays?
  28. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    It's a perfect example of how far production design and editing WON'T take you when the story's not there.
  29. 75
    If you think "Hero" is a sumptuous film, prepare to be blown away by House of Flying Daggers.
  30. Reviewed by: Glenn Kenny
    All told, while the goods that Daggers offers are choice, the movie ultimately demonstrates that too much can be, well, more than enough.
  31. Actors Zhang Ziyi and Takeshi Kaneshiro are the kind of startlingly good-looking, glamorous stars that evoke classic Hollywood adventure films.
  32. 70
    This film pivots on a romantic triangle as overwrought as it is stylized. It's like a Douglas Sirk melodrama ratcheted up with fists of fury and wrapped in apparently endless yards of shimmering silk.
  33. 70
    Choreographed to the last beat, the action scenes have a depth that the film's thinly sketched characters never quite develop.
  34. If only this epic had enough substantial melodramatic hooks to hang this woman's beauty on; emotional traction is most often buried under acres of carefully coordinated vistas and CGI-hued flora.
  35. It's exuberant, exhilarating, poetic and -- intentionally and not -- rather silly.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 195 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 65 out of 97
  2. Negative: 16 out of 97
  1. Aug 12, 2012
    The final fight scene appeared a bit poorly cut-together and took the sheen off an otherwise excellent film. The visuals were truly astounding, and the "echo game" scene must be one of the most amazing pieces of choreography ever filmed. Full Review »
  2. Mar 18, 2012
    I really liked it but the only problems I had with the film is that it failed to show what happend to the rebel group (House of the Flying Daggers) and the action scenes could have been better. Still a solid film though, Definently worth the watch. Full Review »
  3. Aug 31, 2010
    Another pretentious movie made by Zhang. Since Hero, he completed lost everything. The only good thing about this movie is Takeshi Kaneshiro - the ultimate eye candy. He was the only thing that kept me on my seat. The plot does not make sense, especially in the eyes of Mandarin speaking audiences. Pure Nonsense! Plus cringe-worthy dialogues and the flying daggers ... what an embarrassment, even we (who are so used to unreal martial art sequences) found it too much to bear. Full Review »