House of Flying Daggers Movie Poster Image

House of Flying Daggers



Gorgeous, but also very violent.
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • Release Year: 2004
  • Running Time: 119 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive role models

Strong female characters.


Constant peril and violence, some graphic, many characters killed.


Sexual references and situations, including brothel, partial nudity, attempted sexual assault.

Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Drinking, character gets drunk.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie is violent. The fight scenes are beautiful but deadly, with graphic injuries and many deaths. There are sexual references and situations including a scene in a brothel and attempted sexual assault. A strength of the movie is its portrayal of women and of Chinese men and women as strong, brave, and loyal.

What's the story?

In HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS, an officer about to arrest a beautiful blind dancer who works in a brothel tells her that if she can win the "Echo Game" he will let her go. She is surrounded by 100 drums. As the officer tosses stones at the drums, she must listen carefully to replicate the patterns of the sounds through her dance by tossing her long satin sleeves to strike the drums in the same precise rhythms. Her arm sweeps across so that the sleeve extends far enough to pull the officer's sword from its sheath. And then things really start to heat up. In the brothel, a drunken playboy tries to rip the clothes off of the blind dancer, Mei (Ziyi Zhang), but an officer arrives to arrest them both. Mei shows her prowess in the Echo Game, but she is arrested anyway when she attacks the officer. It seems she is an operative for the rebel House of Flying Daggers. She is about to be tortured when she is rescued by the drunken playboy, who tells her he is on her side. They escape together, followed by the soldiers. And like all movie journeys, the characters are on a spiritual quest as they travel. Love and loyalty will be tested and lessons will be learned.

Is it any good?


Director Yimou Zhang (Hero, Raise the Red Lantern) is a master of ravishing, rapturous images drenched with glowing, jewel-like colors, unfurling like a rich tapestry. The fight scenes are dramatic, as much a part of telling the story and revealing the characters as the dialogue and the plot. And they are beautiful, like exquisite blood-soaked ballets.

The confrontations and battle scenes reveal the characters and move the story forward as they dazzle us with breathtaking images and stunning stuntwork. A shower of daggers, a bamboo-forest skirmish that looks like it was choreographed by Cirque du Soleil, and a final encounter in a snow-covered field are striking, moving, and dramatic all at the same time. But the most exquisite image of all is the face of Ziyi Zhang, a brilliant actress, a classically trained dancer, and a fearless combatant. The story may seem unfinished (there is one shot of an advancing army that leaves us wondering what happened next), but ultimately it is as spare and graceful as a calligraphic symbol.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the difficult choices presented to Mei, Jin, and Leo. How did they decide on what was most important to them?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:December 3, 2004
DVD/Streaming release date:April 19, 2005
Cast:Andy Lau, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Zhang Ziyi
Director:Zhang Yimou
Studio:Sony Pictures
Topics:Sports and martial arts
Run time:119 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:sequences of stylized martial arts violence, and some sexuality

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Teen, 14 years old Written bystephagook May 30, 2009
What other families should know
Too much sex
Educator and Parent of a 10, 10, 12, and 12 year old Written byairvato June 13, 2010
What other families should know
Too much sex
Teen, 15 years old Written byBahBahBlahSheep November 22, 2009

Great Film

Beautifully made film. There is some dodgy sexual material but it is an excellent film. The violence in parts is unpleasant but not inappropriate.
What other families should know
Too much sex


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