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Director Ang Lee is one of the best known filmmakers to cross over from Asian to American films as he proved himself equally adept at handling sensitive family dramas and stuffy period pieces when he made Sense & Sensibility (1995). He returned to Asia to produce this surprise box office hit as he blended a traditional wuxia film with an intricately plotted tale of love and betrayal derived from an acclaimed book. In the hands of a lesser director this film may not have become the global phenomenon that it did but despite my reservations about the campy, over the top fights in the film Lee is able to ground the proceedings in reality and craft characters that we care about.
Wudang warrior Li Mu Bai, Chow Yun-fat, wants to retire so that he can be with Yu Shu Lien, Michelle Yeoh, whom he has long had unrequited feelings for due to the fact that she was once engaged to one his blood brothers who died. Bai puts a sword in Lien's possession but it is stolen one night by Jen Yu, Zhang Ziyi, who is a princess with the desire to break free of the restrictions that have been placed upon her. Bai and Lien become surrogate parent figures to Ziyi as she comes of age and tries her hardest to be reunited with her former lover, the bandit Lo, Chang Chen.
One could argue that the film has some structural issues as I was taken out of the film when we cut suddenly to an extended flashback of the relationship between Yu and Lo in the middle of the film. At the beginning of the film I appreciated it's slow pacing as it gave us time to contemplate the issues at hand and appreciate the thick layers of tension between certain characters. Yes, I felt that the premise was extremely silly and a little thin to spread across three hours but when compared to some of the major Hollywood blockbusters released at the time it convinces you of the ludicrous elements of it's plot relatively well. Perhaps it would have been better to not have a thirty minute section of the film devoted entirely to the issue of young lovers separated by class and wealth differences but the film still chugs along at a decent pace and all of the disparate elements can be enjoyed on their own.
One of the film's greatest strengths is in the performances as Yeoh, Fat and Ziyi make for likable leads as characters that occasionally fall into stereotype in the writing. Yeoh, well known for her performances as strong, capable heroines, has the gravitas and regality to make her character appealing even as she is icy and distant from the other characters in the film. I would not say that there is great chemistry between Fat and Yeoh they are entertaining enough as individuals that we can forgive the fact that they seem like siblings when there is supposed to be an intense attraction between them. However it is Ziyi who steals the show as the fierce young princess who is too proud to earn the respect of her elders and too cautious to pursue what she truly wants. It is probably difficult to watch if you are a person fluent in Cantonese because they all speak in completely different accents but they each have a certain charisma and are compulsively watchable.
What a person hopes for in an action film is to be thrilled by the scenes of violence and combat and unfortunately I can't say that I was excited by the sight of wirework and characters flying across roves. Of course you have to except the inherent silliness of any action movie as they almost never aim for realism but there was not the fun of Face/Off (1997) or other similarly ridiculous, slightly arch action films. I assume that these scenes were well choreographed in the eyes of fans of the genre but to me the scenes of action were the least interesting stretches in the film. For people who are not interested in the fights this film may be a difficult watch because a large portion of the film is devoted to this carnage and it takes a long time to get to the meat of the movie.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon has excellent martial arts and is beautifully shot. The story was good and the soundtrack really propelled the movie beyond its subtitles.
Overrated like most Ang's films pretty but no substance.
I think if there is one thing I can say with certainty about "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," it is that it is an exceptionally imaginative movie. While I do feel this movie is just a tad bit overrated, I still found enjoyment in it. The movie has some whimsical and entertaining fight scenes that make it worth watching. I also thought the actors did a great job in the movie and created fairly interesting characters. I personally wasn't that drawn to the main story of the movie but overall am glad I watched this movie. It certainly feels very unique and is tough to compare to anything else that I have seen at this point. It is a movie with action scenes that feel very artistically handled and also feel tension-filled and exciting.
If you like visually stunning movies Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is one of the finest I have ever seen. This stunning film, directed by the esteemed Ang Lee is a work of art. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, which is based on an early 20th century novel by Wang Du Lu, unfolds much like a comic book, with the characters and their circumstances being painted using wide brush stokes. Subtlety is not part of Lee's palette; he is going for something grand and melodramatic, and that's what he gets. The hallmark of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is its standout action sequences, of which there are five or six (depending on how you count). All of them are eye-popping and spectacularly choreographed (by Yuen Wo-Ping, who worked on The Matrix - a connection that is immediately identifiable) with special effects being used to enhance the natural athleticism of the participants. Must watch
Definitely one of the most underrated martial artists films released from outside America!
A thoughtful epic of unsurpassed beauty.
Ang Lee's kung fu epic Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) is a wonderful drama about honor, family, and love. Lee takes you on a sweeping journey through feudal China in his over the top fantasy style. Characters fly from rooftops and trees alike thanks to special practical effects of the era. Ancient China is recreated with magnificent sets, grand sculptures, ornate costumes, detailed swords, and meticulous hairstyles. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is like a dream of a Chinese folktale. It's part family drama and part martial arts combat as both genres are brilliantly executed.
First of all, Ang Lee's direction is masterful and instantly propelled his to all time great director status. His vision for this film is unparalleled to this day. His romance drama scenes are so beautiful and endearing with subtle performances to bring a sweet tenderness to the roles. While Lee's direction for the fight is high speed action and seemingly endless fighting, but shot in such a way that you are held in suspense by every blow. The breathtaking cinematography from Peter Pau will have you gazing at the screen in sheer awe during every scene.
Chow Yun-Fat's leading role as hero swordsman Master Li Mu Bai is legendary. His speed driven combat is as graceful as a dance, but as forceful as a swordsman should be for each move. Yun-Fat brings a calm wisdom and a sure confidence to his role, while simultaneously portraying a hesitant lover. His romance with Michelle Yeoh, as Yu Shu Lien, is touching. They have wondrous chemistry. You completely fall in love with these characters and wish them the best. Yeoh delivers as riveting and fast paced swordsmanship to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon as Chow Yun-Fat. Together, they are marvelous fighters and thoughtful heroes. I must say that Michelle Yeoh is pretty devastating as a woman who cannot admit her feelings for her love until it's too late.
I have to mention the stunning and skillful Zhang Ziyi as Jen Yu. Her anti-hero arc is powerful and captivating. Every look Ziyi gives reveals more of her character's feelings without a word. Zhang Ziyi portrays an adorable romance with Chang Chen as Lo the outlaw "Dark Cloud." He is a fun and carefree anti-hero, while she is a hateful villain turned into a sympathetic character over the course of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon's massive run-time. She delivers astonishing displays of swordsmanship with fluid, swift, kung fu combat. Likewise, her dramatic acting rips your heart out during her tears for her lover and her despair for her master. Zhang Ziyi immediately established herself as one of the greatest living actresses ever after Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
Lastly, I should commend Tan Dun's score. His music brings you back in time to ancient China with a romantic haze and a sweeping sincerity. Yo Yo Ma even plays his cello with all his soul for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. This is hands down one of the most lovely and memorable film scores of all time.
A wonderful and beautiful movie.
Perfect balance between character development and action, Ang Lee shows us his best. The music and combat are also outstanding, along and all star cast makes this a movie not to be missed. I also felt like I learned from this film things about the culture, and got to see great scenery.
This is one of my Top Films of all time. Along with Star Wars, Rushmore, Blade Runner(s), Local Hero ... it moved me. The script, action, actors, cinematography, and acting were sublime. A rare film where I can watch it all from start to finish anytime, or walk into in the middle of the film and pick right up and carry it through to the end. A real treat of film making. What films are meant to be.