Original title: Wo hu cang long
Starring: Yun-Fat Chow, Michelle Yeoh, Ziyi Zhang
Directed by: Ang Lee
Written By: Hui-Ling Wang, James Schamus, Kuo Jung Tsai
Rating: PG-13 (US) Running Time: 2 hr
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon might have seemed like an odd film for director Ang Lee to make back in 2000, considering this is the guy who brought us Sense and Sensibility. But in truth, these two films have more in common that you might first appreciate.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, like Sense and Sensibility is a story set in the past, where strictly enforced societal rules of conduct have bound the lead characters to a path they don’t want to travel.
So in Crouching Tiger, Master Li Mu Bai (Yun-Fat Chow) and Yu Shu Lien (Michelle Yeoh), who clearly love each other, are forced to honor Yu Shu Lien’s prior commitment to another man even though he’s now passed on. Jen Yu (Ziyi Zhang), is being married off by her family, though loves another man. Fertile ground for some engaging drama, which Ang Lee explores well.
Sense and Sensibility however, didn’t have any martial arts action if I recall correctly! Tiger does, and it’s pretty spectacular too when it’s on the ground. There is way too much wire work going on in this film. Sure it can make for some interesting visuals, but I’m more of a purist when it comes to my martial arts action, and tricks like this (taking into consideration this story at no point insinuates any kind of supernatural setting) just pull me right out of the film. When the action stays on the ground however, Crouching Tiger’s fight sequences are very exciting to watch.
Your enjoyment of this film really depends on what you’re in the mood for. If you’re looking for a no holds barred kung-fu actioner, then Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is going to feel more like Sleeping Panther, Missing Lizard! If you come at this ready for some well-directed Ang Lee dramatics, you’re probably going to enjoy this more.
This is a visually stunning film, so a theater viewing would be your best option. At home a HD viewing is recommended. Anything less than a large well-defined screen is going to reduce the impact of the film.
The fight sequence I enjoyed the most, is the battle between Jen Yu (Ziyi Zhang) and Yu Shu Lien (Michelle Yeoh) at Yu Shu Lien’s training center. I like it because it’s pretty much grounded the entire time, and the action feels more realistic. It’s an epic confrontation too, as Jen Yu uses the Green Destiny sword to slice through every weapon Yu Shu Lien attacks her with.