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Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)

Wo hu cang long

A warrior’s skills exist to be put to the test

Directed by:

Ang Lee

Stefan Ruzowitsky

Tony Cinciripini

Rating: 8/10

Running Time: 115 minutes

UK Certificate: 12

On DVD

Country: China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, United States, United States, United States

Chow Yun Fat stars as Lee Mu Bai, a highly-skilled martial arts master. When he decides to give his legendary sword, the Green Destiny, to the elder Sir Te (Lung Sihung) it is his friend and fellow warrior Yu Shu Lien (Michelle Yeoh) he asks to carry it there. However, one night after the sword has been delivered to Sir Te, a young masked thief of great skill steals it. A dramatic chase ensues, with Shu Lien trying to catch the thief.

The thief is Jen Yu (Ziyi Zhang), a governor's daughter, who has secretly been taught martial arts by the infamous assassin Jade Fox (Cheng Pei Pei). She is also reluctantly engaged and facing an arranged marriage. She is already in love with another – in the past she had a passionate romance with a desert wanderer (Chang Chen). As it becomes clear that Jade Fox is involved, Mu Bai begins to look into the theft – he has been seeking the mysterious assassin, who was responsible for killing his master. Mu Bai and Shu Lien go in pursuit of Jade Fox and Jen in order to recover the sword and avenge Mu Bai's master.

A worthy film that won four Oscars, 'Crouching Tiger' is at its heart an epic love story wrapped in an action fantasy, all set against the background of historic China. Made with the Western market in mind, the film is very accessible and understandable by Western audiences. The fight sequences, especially the wirework, are wonderfully choreographed and the stunts are superb. The film looks wonderful, full of broad vistas and impressive cities. Chow Yun Fat and Michelle Yeoh are experienced martial arts performers who not only demonstrate great skill but also do a great job with the acting. Young actress Ziyi Zhang, however, struggles to make Jen a sympathetic character. The film starts rather slowly and takes a long time to set the scene, but once things start to happen it becomes pacier.

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It's Got: Some of the best Chinese-style film martial arts that the West has seen so far.

It Needs: Jen to be a more appealing character.

DVD Extras The "Making of" featurette is particularly interesting. Extras: Commentary by director and producer, Making of, Conversation with Michelle Yeoh, Photo gallery, Filmographies, Trailers. DVD Extras Rating: 7/10

Alternatives:

2002, Baby Boy, Boyz N the Hood., Highlander., Jakob the Liar, Jet Li's The Legend/Fong Sai Yuk, Miss Congeniality, Once Were Warriors, Top Secret.

Summary

This is an elegant and beautiful film that demonstrates some of the traditions of Chinese film-making but is clearly aimed at Western audiences.

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