NOTE: This spoiler was sent in by DBTayag who says... "The spoiler is quite long but it's better to see the film on the big screen for its grand cinematography and wondrous fight sequences. Not as good as Zhang Yimou's previous effort, Hero, but still good overall."
Jin (Takeshi Kaneshiro) and Leo (Andy Lau) are two captains of Feng Tian county out on an assignment to finally crush the group called the Flying Daggers. The group is a rebellion against the government and the emperor assigns them to the job. Leo hears of a girl working at the New Peony Pavilion (a brothel) that is working for the Flying Daggers. Because of Jin's ways of flirting with woman he accepts to go to the Peony Pavilion. He gets drunk and asks for the new girl of the Pavilion. She is the blind but beautiful girl Mei (Zhang Ziyi). Her name means flower and Jin tells her that he will take her to where real flowers grow. She performs a song and dance number for Jin. After she finishes, Jin grabs and attempts to rape her in front of everybody. He is arrested along with Mei by Leo but the Madam Yee (Dandan Song) insists that she is new. Leo gives Mei the only choice of impressing him enough that he won't arrest her. He asks her if she's performed the Echo game before and she says "only once." During the end of the Echo game, Mei tries to kill Leo with a sword but she fails. After an awesome fight sequence, Leo succeeds in arresting Mei.
She is taken to the Feng Tian county jail for answers. One guard tells Leo that they found Flying Daggers blades in her room at the Pavilion. Leo tells her that she will be tortured if she won't divulge anything but he gives her one day to think about it. Jin and Leo talk about the Flying Daggers and Leo formulates a plan. The plan is to have Jin help Mei escape from the jail using the name of "Wind." The next day Jin is able to help Mei escape. After their escape, Jin gives her back her Flying Daggers blades. Mei detects soldiers approaching and they run until she finds out that her pouch of blades is missing. Jin takes his sword and goes back to find them while he leaves Mei alone. The soldiers find Mei and while giving quite a good fight the soldiers corner her. Jin comes to the rescue with his bow and arrow and kills the soldiers with accurate precision. Jin and Mei escape again and we find that the soldiers aren't dead at all. They pretended to attack Mei so Jin could earn her trust.
Jin makes a bath for Mei and gives her men's clothes to wear. They try to make love but Mei thinks of someone she truly loves and stops. They both go to sleep and Jin wakes up to secretly speak to Leo, who is waiting in the forest. Leo tells Jin to stick with the plan and not to fall for Mei because she is cunning. Leo also tells Jin that he will no longer send anymore soldiers, to make the trip easier.
While on their journey, they stop at the field with flowers and Mei becomes excited. Jin then goes on horseback to grab her a bouquet of flowers and tells her "didn't I tell you I'd bring you to where the real flowers grow?" It's then when Jin sees soldiers approaching. He is confused and tells them to go away but they don't listen. Jin tells them that he is captain but they refuse to hear him ("Nonsense. You're the bastard who broke into the jail!"). Jin and Mei successfully kill them all off until more approach. They are seriously outnumbered and cornered until someone from the forest behind them throws numerous daggers at the soldiers killing them instantly. Jin is depressed because he had to kill his own men. Mei tries to comfort him but he shies away from her kisses. They stop again to relax in the forest so Jin can again speak secretly to Leo. Jin asks why soldiers came and Leo tells him that he had to tell the general about the case because it was so important. Leo gives him a bundle of arrows and tells him sternly, "If you don't kill them, THEY WILL KILL YOU."
Jin comes back to Mei and she asks him where he's been. He refuses to tell her and she leaves saying, "I think you've done enough." They go their separate ways until Mei is cornered (AGAIN) by a large number of soldiers. In an excellent fight sequence, she fights them with a piece of bamboo but again she is cornered until Jin comes to the rescue (again). They both grab each other and try to escape with bamboo spears raining on them (a stupendous scene). They both are cornered with bamboo spear after bamboo spear. Their death is imminent and they both hold hands. Jin tells her that he came back for her while she smiles and sheds one tear. Before the soldiers can kill them, hundreds of daggers come out of nowhere killing them. Mei realizes that it is Nia, the leader of the Flying Daggers. We find out that the leader is actually the Madam of the New Peony Pavilion and Jin is shocked. They are taken safely to the House of Flying Daggers where Nia asks Jin to marry Mei. He accepts but before he can kneel, a trap net overcomes him. He is tied up and Nia brings in Leo who is also captured. Leo says that the soldiers were ambushed. Leo and Jin then see Mei coming in to pour tea for Nia. Mei is not actually blind at all but only pretending so that Jin can believe her and trust her. Nia then tells her soldiers to kill Leo. Nia decides that she will kill Leo herself. Leo tells her that she is not Nia but only Yee one of the other Flying Daggers soldiers. Yee then tells him, "Nia wouldn't show herself so easily." Instead of killing Leo, Yee cuts the rope from Leo's body.
We then find out that Leo is actually a mole in the goverment inserted by the Flying Daggers themselves. He failed to protect the old leader of the Flying Daggers and feels guilt towards it. Leo then asks why Nia sent Mei on this mission as Mei is Leo's lover. She tells him that her beauty is essential to this mission. Yee then schedules a meeting between Leo and Mei. They both meet in the bamboo forest while Leo shows off his daggers skills. They both kiss and try to make love but Mei has fallen in love with Jin. Leo realizes this and becomes furious with Mei. He tries to rape her until Nia shows up and throws a dagger into his back. He tries to remove it but Nia tells him to keep it there as proof that he is the only one who escape from the ambush.
Nia then orders Mei to kill Jin because he has seen too much. Mei takes Jin to the forest to be killed but doesn't go with the plan.
She helps him remove his ties and they passionately make love on the fields. After their small making out session, Jin is forced to leave. Jin asks Mei to go with him to roam the world. He keeps on insisting but she refuses each time. Jin then leaves. Mei hesitates for a while until realizing that she is truly in love with Jin and no longer with Leo. She saddles up on her horse and follows Jin. While following Jin, a dagger is seen coming towards Mei. Mei throws her sword deflecting it not until we see that the one dagger was actually cleverly placed daggers pieced together. The sword knocks off one dagger but the other penetrates Mei's heart. She falls hard on the flower laced field. We see that Leo was the one who threw the daggers towards Mei. Leo then asks her sternly, "Why are you going with him?" She tells him that she knew he would do this. He then tells her, "Mei, I have loved you. You don't need to love me but you cannot go with him. Otherwise you'll die." Leo then runs to weakened and bleeding Mei and screams to her face, "WHY!" "WHY ARE YOU GOING WITH HIM?!" She responds slowly, "To be free like the wind." She falls from Leo's arms while Leo cries out. A distance away, Jin has an instinct that something is wrong and gallops back with his horse. Jin sees Mei on the ground and holds her in his arms. Mei whispers in his ear but he cannot hear. She whispers again, telling him, "Turn around."
Leo attacks Jin from behind. Jin dodges his attack and acquires Mei's sword from the ground. Jin finally realizes that Leo was the one who saved them from the ambush earlier and the one who was Mei's former lover. Leo then responds stern, "It's all your fault. You were supposed to be playing a game. But you did not." Jin and Leo then battle it out. Meanwhile, at the House of Flying Daggers, hundreds if not thousands of government policemen are slowly approaching the House. This is the last we will see of this scene.
As we go back to the Jin and Leo battle, snow begins to fall upon them. The snow falls harder and it turns into a blizzard. Their swords clash and clank and begin to chip away with each successive clash. The fight is brutal, blood flows, it ends with the two of them stabbing each other in the back. They both stop for a moment while blood flows out of Leo's mouth. Leo then forcibly takes the dagger out of his back (the same dagger that Nia threw at him for forcing Mei). Suddenly, in a suspension of disbelief, the supposedly dead Mei begins to rise from the snow covered ground. Mei holds the dagger penetrating her heart and tells Leo, "If you kill him, I will kill you with his dagger." Leo screams at Mei to doing such an unruly act and tells her that she will die if she does. Leo then smirks at Mei, then at Jin, and throws the dagger from his right hand. Mei, with no choice, rips the dagger from her chest and throws it towards Leo. We see the dagger fly beautifully with precision between Leo and Jin. We also see Mei while blood flows freely from the hole in her chest. We then see that it was a drop of blood not a dagger that left Leo's hand. The drop of blood flies through the air as Mei's dagger precisely intercepts it. Leo then stares at Mei as she falls to the ground. Jin runs towards Mei as Leo drops his dagger. Before dying, Mei tells Jin the same statement she had told him numerous times before, "You shouldn't have come back." Jin tells her sweetly, "I came back for you..my love." She finally closes her eyes and dies in Jin's arms. Jin cries and holds Mei tightly. Leo, crushed that Mei is dead, sheds a few tears before walking off clumsily. Jin then sings the song that Mei had sung to him the first time they met:
"A rare beauty of the North.
She's the finest lady of the Earth.
A glance from her, the whole city goes down.
A second glance leaves the city in ruins.
There exists no city or nation
That has been more cherished
Than a beauty like this."
The snow falls slowly upon them.
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