Anything “Elektra” can do, “House of Flying Daggers” can do better.

“Flying Daggers” did the hand-to-hand-combat-in-breathtaking-settings thing first. In fact, pretty much everything “Elektra” does has been done better elsewhere.

The single-minded woman on a violent mission? “Kill Bill,” which, unlike “Elektra,” could be as bloody as it needed to be because it wasn’t desperate for a PG-13 (basically, that means the camera in “Elektra” cuts away just before heads get fileted off).

The posse of destructive baddies, each with a unique power? “X-Men” (and “X-Men” had better powers – one of the villains here paralyzes people with lethal halitosis).

The avenging woman who takes a promising teen under her wing? That would be “ElectraWoman and Dyna­Girl.”

Oh, and P.S.: All of those projects were a heckuva lot more fun than the joyless “Elektra,” which has the somber, hushed atmosphere of a dentist’s waiting room or an Enya song.

Elektra’s story began in tragedy, you see, and that tragedy is reiterated often so that we know this paid assassin has more issues than National Geographic – father issues, trust issues, authority issues, you name it.

The vibrant Jennifer Garner is required to maintain a glum, it’s-a-drag-to-be-all-powerful vibe that is about as appealing as when you read an interview with some star in Vanity Fair and she complains about what a burden it is to be beautiful, fabulously wealthy and carefree.

As a result, the movie feels like we’re peeking in on a twisted superhero’s draggy therapy sessions, which is just what everybody wants from an action movie, right?


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