Flying Dagger (1993)
Reviewed by: ewaffle on 2006-03-23
By the time that “Flying Dagger” was made, Maggie Cheung had learned how to be cute and adorable in a movie without overdoing it. This is not an easy task and it isn’t something that one picks up quickly. But after appearing in 52 movies from 1988 to 1993 Maggie knew how to do just about everything there was to do in front of a camera and do it as well as any actress then working, whether in Hong Kong, Hollywood or Paris. Cute but not “cutsie”, if you will, was simply part of her repertory.

I agree with those who wrote that it looked as if just about everyone was having a good time—it seemed particularly true of Maggie and Jacky Cheung. Much of this, of course, may be simply filed under the heading of “acting”—playing the part of an actor who is enjoying playing a particular part. This is so commonplace in film, especially in comedies, that it barely rates mentioning—it is almost expected by the audience and gives them a sense of belonging—they get the joke which sets them apart from those who don’t. It is, however, possible to enjoy what one is doing, especially in the company of other talented professionals and for the director to decide to print the takes in which the actors seemed to be having fun as actors as well as impersonating characters.

“Flying Dagger” is a sex comedy stuffed into the structure of a swordplay movie. It begins with an attack on a platoon of heavily armed soldiers protecting a sedan chair containing, one assumes, a royal or at least very important individual. The convoy stops at exactly the wrong (or right, depending upon if you are an defender or attacker) time and place and the fun begins. It is very difficult to follow who is doing what to whom, which may have been the director’s intention, and serves to introduce most of the main characters. Big and Little Dagger is the male team of bounty hunters; Big and Little Bewitchment is the female team. Both of them are stalking Nine-Tails Fox and Flying Cat but being thrown together as often as they are while on the case means romantic sparks will fly as the sexual energy builds. Little Bewitchment and Little Dagger, winningly played by Gloria Yip and Jimmy Lin, are open about their mutual infatuation—they are two randy youngsters who, while not unmindful of the importance of the mission and the need to capture the prey, find it very difficult to keep their hands off each other. The more mature Big Bewitchment and Big Dagger are also attracted to each other although Big Dagger is a virgin, a shameful secret that he reveals very quickly.

Jacky Cheung is just about perfect as the Fox who is the target of the pursuit. At one point most of his furry tails are cut in half—his reaction as he holds the truncated stubs is priceless. Fox has a very active libido and in Flying Cat a very understanding consort. This Cat is as different as different can be from Maggie the Cat played 35 years earlier by another raven-tressed actress, but both Elizabeth Taylor in 1958 and Maggie Cheung in 1993 have one thing in common, other than their beautiful black hair—both of them simply radiate star power.

While it has some very decent action scenes “Flying Dagger” is not an action movie as such—it doesn’t take itself seriously enough. At no point in the proceedings does the audience worry about any of the characters—one simply knows that things will turn out for the best for everyone. Along the way will be a lot of laughs, some excellent sword fighting and flying and a plot that makes less and less sense as the movie unspools.

Reviewer Score: 7