Everything I Need To Know, I Leaned From Watching An Italian Bugger Three Women At Once
There’s a lesson to be learned from every film, whether it be Scarface’s message that pride goeth before a fall, or Sick Insertions’ moral that with a little lubricant and a lot of grimacing, anything can fit in anywhere. Foreign films, in particular, contain a great deal of information for the attentive viewer. Not only do they visit upon the audience the ultimate message of the film, they also provide a peek into the particular culture that created the work. En Folkenfiend, for example, taught me that Norway has a significant portion of the population who aren’t church burning sociopaths. Canadian cinema, on the other hand, is so boring I finally understand why the country’s the size of maybe two-thirds of the known world yet contains roughly the population of a particularly well attended Patriots game. House of Flying Daggers is no different. Not only was I deeply touched by its message of the addictive and destructive nature of love, I also learned that Chinese people can fly. Or at least they could. Maybe they still can, if their bloodline hasn’t yet been polluted by the Japanese, a people whose only super-powers, as far as I can tell, are the ability to dramatically wear sunglasses in American Yakuza films and bath their women in semen. It's important to learn new things, because the only information I have about China comes from American news feeds, which would have me believe that the whole country is some sort of terrifying Borg-like hive mind, bent on world domination and the ascendancy of their mighty leader, General Tao. Also, since they have no pornography industry to speak of, I am unable to glean any information from that valuable source.
Some would say that this bizarre lack of porn is due to their repressive communist government, whereas I posit it’s either because the Chinese reproduce asexually or, as this week’s episode of The E-Ring would have me believe, because they can’t tell the boys from the girls. I've come to this conclusion however, because I am ignorant, and everything I learned about the world comes from imported skin flicks. Left without this input source, I tend to make things up based on old sci-fi serials and racial stereotypes. If I can ever bring myself to leave my fortified compound for any reason other than DVD rentals and more ammunition, then perhaps I’ll learn a little more about the wide world that surrounds me. But until then, I do my travel vicariously through Rocco Siffredi, and I’d like to share with you a few lessons about this global village we call Earth, that I’ve learned along the way:
1. Czech women will do anything for money. This does not mean that I want to see it.
2. The Japanese are very flexible.
3. Never go to Germany for any reason whatsoever.
4. Brazil is all about the butt. Also AIDS.
5. A Cockney accent is not as attractive as one would imagine it to be.
The Lonely Planet Guide to Spain
Those valuable lessons aside, I’m glad I learned a little bit about the Chinese from this movie. Plus, House of Flying Daggers is actually not an entirely unpleasant viewing experience, to tell the truth. I had feared the worst prior to watching the film, expecting just another convoluted storyline about either demon lords or evil foreigners that fills up the dead space between action set-pieces. The main problem with many Asian action films is that few directors, or fans, for that matter, realize that cool fight scenes do not a movie make. It’s what you do between them that counts, and if what you have between them is either bad dubbing or Chow Yun Fat in a dress, then you’re not going to win over intelligent Western audiences. But here’s where House of Flying Daggers is different. Sure, it has a story that twists and turns like a noose around a bad screenwriter’s neck, choking out cliché after cliché until all that's left is stock heist film surprises pasted over the decaying corpse of a Jet Li movie. But, as the plot grows more complicated, the basic story of the film becomes more simple, until you realize that what at first appears to be a sweeping historical epic full of massive battles and a Star Wars-like conflict between rebel and Empire, is in fact just a simple and tragic love triangle. In essence, the film moves from the macroscopic to the microscopic, like a zoom in a Tarkovsky film. And, like Tarkovsky, it takes two goddamn hours to get to the point. The action scenes help the time pass somewhat pleasantly, though while many will find the astonishingly photographed action scenes and stunning cinematography the highlight of the film, I find it a distraction, as it seems every scene is a Seasame Street skit brought to us a primary colour. But unlike director Yimou Zhang’s previous film, Hero, which was essentially just Rashomon for people who like shiny things, I found this film's plot engaging, and the story much more informative about the magic powers of the Chinese. A few more Chinese films, and I just might be able to get a handle on the country. At least until Rocco goes to Shanghai.