Comparisons between House of Flying Daggers and Hero, which share a star (Ziyi Zhang), director (Zhang Yimou) and insatiable appetite for splendor, are inevitable. Daggers isn’t quite as perfect as Hero, which featured more sophisticated storytelling and tighter mechanics in general. But that’s like comparing a birthday cake to a wedding cake. You wouldn’t turn down a good birthday cake, would you? Unlikely. And this work of art, which delivers as much passion, color and violence as the senses can handle at one time, is nothing if not a treat. It’s a shame so few directors can wear their hearts on their sleeves the way Yimou does with complete abandon. In Chinese, French and English. Listen to the English track at your own risk; the “acting” is the kind of bad reserved for elementary school plays.

Extras: Commentary with Zhang and Director Zhang Yimou, “making-of” documentary, behind-the-scenes feature, music video, storyboards, galleries.

DVD Grade: A

© 2005, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

House of Flying Daggers is currently available.