Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)
Rated PG13

Starring: Chow Yun-Fat, Michelle Yeoh, and Zhang Zi Yi

out of

If you've heard Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is an action movie, you've heard correctly. Sort of. If you've heard Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is a love story, you've heard correctly. Sort of. If you've heard Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is a great movie, you've heard correctly. Well, sort of. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is a love story and an action movie. It doesn't fit either genre in the traditional sense, so it's very hard to pigeonhole as being one or the other.

Li Mu Bai (Chow Yun-Fat), a well-known Chinese warrior, has given up his sword, the Green Destiny, and entrusts it to his longtime friend and fellow fighter, Shu Lien (Michelle Yeoh). Shu Lien is to deliver the sword to Sir Te, a friend of Li Mu Bai's murdered master. Shortly after she does, the sword is stolen from its resting place. The suspects include Li Mu Bai's enemy, Jade Fox, who killed Li Mu Bai's master, and may now be hiding in the governor's entourage. Li Mu Bai and Shu Lien attempt to recover the sword, but the delicacy of the governor's involvement make things very difficult. While investigating, Shu Lien strikes up a friendship with the governor's daughter, Jen (Zhang Zi Yi.) Jen is about to be married -- an arranged marriage -- which makes her long for the freedom the life of a fighter like Shu Lien can give. Shu Lien draws a comparison between their lives which may cause Jen to reveal a secret that will affect everyone involved.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon does contain some amazing action and fight sequences. Like all good martial arts movies, they require a little suspension of disbelief. The film may ask a little more from the viewer than the usual martial arts movie. However, one must keep in mind that this movie combines fantasy elements and realism in ways no different than any other movie that contains them. The film's low-key atmosphere just makes the fantasy elements seem a bit more obvious and over the top than they would appear in something out of Hollywood, say, like The Matrix.

Director Ang Lee (The Ice Storm) and cinematographer Peter Pau have combined to make a movie that is visually stunning in more ways than just the action sequences. The sets and surroundings of the film are breathtaking, to say the least. However, there are moments of subtle beauty in the close-ups of Michelle Yeoh's face and Chow Yun-Fat's eyes as well.

And, as I said, there is a love story here. It's well-told and just as interesting as the action elements of the film. In fact, it could be separated from the action elements and make an entertaining film. The action and fighting are just the icing on the cake.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon has been receiving a lot of attention from both the movie-going public and the entertainment press. It's been doing great business at the box office and that was thought impossible for a sub-titled film. Although the movie doesn't really live up to the hype that's preceded it, it is still a very solid and well made movie with an engaging story and lots of action. Maybe its been doing so well because it delivers what Hollywood action movies can't deliver: a cohesive story. Or maybe it's because it delivers what Hollywood love stories aren't allowed to deliver: action sequences -- with women taking a very active role in them. In any event, it's a film worth tracking down and seeing. Just don't expect a conventional (insert genre here) film.

Trivia: Chow Yun-Fat and Michelle Yeoh had to learn Mandarin Chinese prior to the start of filming. Their Cantonese accents can be heard throughout. (Source: The Internet Movie Database)

Bookmark and Share

eXTReMe Tracker