This is a movie so pretty you could turn off the sound and the subtitles and just sit there and look at it. Two big scenes are worth watching more than once. The first is at the beginning of the movie, when a blind dancer plays the "echo game" in a brothel. The second comes about three-quarters of the way in as two lovers are pursued in a bamboo forest.
The movie's not just pretty, however. It does have a plot. I thought it would be a martial arts fantasy adventure. It turned out to be a martial arts fantasy romance.
It has all the trappings of adventure: the emperor is corrupt and weak, and a secret society (the Flying Daggers) opposes him. A young cop is assigned by his friend to cozy up to the blind dancer by rescuing her from jail. They hope she will lead them to the Flying Daggers. But things, as often, aren't what they seem, and people aren't who they seem to be, either.
The plot revelations would have been better if spread out through the movie instead of being lumped into about five minutes of it, but who cares? It's not about the plot, anyway. It's about the beautifully choreographed battles and individual fights, about the impressive scenery, about the costumes and the color and the movement.
Walter Satterthwait told me that this movie had "a jolly ending." Walter's a card. Check it out for yourself.