House of Flying Daggers (soundtrack) by Kyle Eastwood & Michael Stevens



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House of Flying Daggers
by Shigeru Umebayashi

Music from the Films of Zhang Yimou

House of Flying Daggers  - D1 One sheet Poster
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House of Flying Daggers (Soundtrack) by Shigeru Umebayashi

House of Flying Daggers
Composed by Shigeru Umebayashi
Sony Classical Records (2004)

Rating: 8/10

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Listen to this soundclip of House of Flying DaggersBeauty Song (427 kb)

Listen to this soundclip of House of Flying DaggersPreparing for the Battle (350 kb)

Listen to this soundclip of House of Flying DaggersLovers (Mei and Jin) (324 kb)

More clips from House of Flying Daggers at


“It could be said that this score is not quite as "epic" as HERO but it is filled with detail, nuance, and variety. Shigeru Umebayashi continues to demonstrate his knack for combining both eastern and western instruments for his musical palette.”

House of Umebayashi
Review by Christopher Coleman

Zhang Ziyi (Mei) - House of Flying DaggersDirector Zhang Yimou's first foray into the historical/wuxia drama genre, HERO, was a surprising triumph. His growing fanbase were ecstatic at word of his next project, HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS, which would also be a film of the same genre. Maintaining his flare for the visual in HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS, this time Yimou's story centers around 3 mysterious characters who eventually come to form a love triangle. The theme of the film is actually the opposite of that of HERO. The ideals in HERO were the considered the greatest good and love and life were sacrificed for them. In HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS, we have everything sacrificed for love. That emphasis is carried into the score as well. Instead of TAN DUN, Zhang Yimou chose renown composer SHIGERU UMEBAYASHI to write the score for his more intimate movie.

Shigeru Umebayashi's score sits in stark contrast to Tan Dun's bold music for HERO. Here, Umebayashi builds the score upon an exotic cast of instruments of both eastern and western origin, but those which catch the most spotlight are of the east. There are three musical elements that HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS, the first half of the score in particular, appears to be built upon: the shakuhachi (Japanese flute), percussion, erhu (chinese violin).

The Japanese flute makes its first appearance in track 1, "Opening Titles" but returns to open tracks such as "Battle in the Forest" (5), and then "No Way Out" (9). Zhang Ziyi's character of Mei has her theme introduced in track 2, "Beauty Song" which is sung by Zhang Ziyi but the song is co-lead by the always-yearning erhu. Mei's theme becomes the strongest theme of the score and is arranged and performed much more fully by strings at the conclusion of "No Way Out." Umebayashi's use of the erhu seems to be his main instrument in communicating any side of this love triangle. In track "Lovers (Flower Garden)" (8), we have the main love theme introduced by this instrument as well. Track 10, also features a solo performance of this theme by the erhu. Underscoring the more intense scenes, Shigeru Umebayashi employs a variety of percussive instruments: from the bellowing taiko drum to pensive wood-blocks. One of the most memorable scense also features one of the boldest cues. Track 3, "The Echo Game" begins with a dramatic taiko roll which is followed by a blinding barrage of wood blocks and seemingly countless layers of percussion.

The latter half of the soundtrack reflects the tone of the movie as successive revelations are made within the plot and the storylines begin to criss-cross and converge to the finale. Western strings begin to dominate the score while eastern instruments start to fade into the background. The "Lovers" theme once lead by the erhu is played exclusively, and quite satisfactorily, by the string section and while the construction of theme is still in an eastern-flavor no eastern instrumentation can be easily detected in this rendition. The soundtrack concludes with a vocal performance of the "Lovers" theme by famed, operatic, star, KATHLEEN BATTLE. While it works well enough over the end credits, it did seem strange to have lyrics sung in English instead of Mandarin. Perhaps another performance of the "Beauty Song" would have been a more fitting conclusion.

In the end, HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS is a refreshingly intimate score. It could be said that this score is not quite as "epic" as HERO but it is filled with detail, nuance, and variety. Shigeru Umebayashi continues to demonstrate his knack for combining both eastern and western instruments for his musical palette. Sony Classical's release 49 minute release contains the most of the musical highlights of the film and are arranged in chronological order. All in all, HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS, is a solid release and is an entertaining listen.


Rating: 8/10

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Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 Opening Title 0:58  ****
2 Beauty Song (Jia Ren Qu) 2:32  ****
3 The Echo Game 1:17  *****
4 The Peonyhouse 1:22  ****
5 Battle in the Forest 3:26  ****
6 Taking Her Hand 1:14  ***
7 Leo's Eyes 1:51  ***
8 Lovers (Flower Garden) 2:19  ****
9 No Way Out 3:59  ****
10 Lovers 1:54  ****
11 Farewell No. 1 2:42  ****
12 Bamboo Forest 2:36  ****
13 Ambush in Ten Directions (Shi Mian Mai Fu) 2:01  ****
14 Leo's Theme 2:36  ***
15 Mei and Leo 3:06  ***
16 The House of Flying Daggers 1:27  ***
17 Lovers (Mei and Jin) 4:21  ****
18 Farewell No. 2 2:49  ****
19 Until the End 2:55  ****
20 Lovers (Title Song) 4:12  ***
  Total Running Time (approx) 49 minutes  




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