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Film Review - Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
This is exactly what you go see the movie for. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (the foreign title is Wu Hu Zang Long) is perfection.
If you like the Star Wars saga, here is another genre George Lucas ripped off. The Emperor, Luke/Anakin, Obi-Wan, they are all here. The story of goodness, versus evil is here. The choice between the light and the dark sides is here.
Li Mu Bai (Chow Yun-Fat) is a master swordsman. He is looking for peace. During meditation, he entered a terrifying place. He decides to give up his sword and change his life. He entrusts his sword to Yu Shu Lien (Michelle Yeoh) who will deliver it to an old friend. There's an old attraction between Li Mu Bai and Yu Shu Lien that neither has had the courage to explore.
In delivering the sword, Yu Shu Lien discovers a young woman who has incredible skills in the martial arts. Jen Yu would like to be a warrior thinking it is the life she has read in her books. She is young and naive. This young woman is the pivot in the struggle between good and evil. She is being seduced by the power her evil master dangles before her. Li Mu Bai and Yu Shu Lien sees her potential and are set on redeeming her.
The characters in this story and very full and three dimensional. As the story progresses we not only hear their dialog, but we see a real person on the screen. Li Mu Bai is very close to enlightenment. He knows that he can not win Jen Yu from evil with a heavy hand. He is patient and strong.
Yu Shu Lien too is strong, but she is also a woman in China. She knows that it is also important to solve problems while ensuring that people do not loose face. She is very complex. Her need for love is tempered by her feelings of duty. Yeoh's portal is worthy of an Oscar nomination.
Ziyi Zhang who portrays Jen Yu may have the broadest range in the picture. She is the confused teenager. Brave, yet afraid. Full of pain, and inner conflict. Does she stay with the evil master, go to the good masters, or run off to the desert where her lover hides? This is not a simple role. The writing ensemble of Du Lu Wang, Hui-Ling Wang, James Schamus, and Kuo Jung Tsai have done themselves proud.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is shot against a beautiful background which portrays China of centuries ago. The film is also a bit surreal. During battles, warriors are able to fly through the air. Gravity means nothing. The battle is not about what happens on this Earth. Li Mu Bai believes that everything around him is an illusion. The battle is really in the mind, and so Earthly restrictions have no meaning.
There's just nothing to knock here. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is my pick for best picture of 2000.
Directed by Ang Lee
Released in 2000
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Reviewed by Mongo