Kenneth's Review of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
I tried really hard to adore this film, with my preconceived expectation washed-over by waves of positivity from professional critics and peers. Seeing it, however, left me feeling downright confused. The film was replete with scenes that placed me in a black hole of emotions, as they neither made me laugh or feel excited. Worse, such scenes detracted from the whole experience, as they were placed in pivotal moments (ie, the big fights and/or character relationship scenes.) One such uncomfortable moment featured a man who takes a steel ax to the head, and he lays there, dead and cross-eyed, in front of the camera like a smiling, ax-headed triceratops. Is this supposed to be laughable or depressing? Or what? I'm not sure, but it killed the moment for me. The flying scenes, which at times are wonderful to behold, come off most of the time as Asian renditions of Peter Pan, minus the pixie dust. Again, is this supposed to be eye-popping or eye-watering (due to tears of mocking laughter?) I'm not sure.
On the positive side, Crouching Tiger had THE best martial arts sequences I have ever witnesses in a feature film, a decent story, and multiple, strong-willed female protagonists who decided the course of action, (a simple choice, but one that is sorely needed in modern films.) The editing is done very well, and is obvious during the extended flashback scene; (if handled by a run-of-the-mill Hollywood director, such a scene would seem boring and worthy of the editing room than the living room.)
Ang Lee has created something that is otherworldly, totally watchable, but, unfortunately, frustrating, as crucial moments are tarnished by misplaced humor (if that was Lee's intention.)