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Movie Review: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

Filed under the:  department.
Posted by:Ryan on Tuesday, 26 Dec, 2000 @ 6:08 PM
Film / Movie

Santa isn’t the only one who can fly across the sky and balance precariously on rooftops… so can the warriors in what is being called the greatest martial arts movie ever made, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Ruprect is back with his view of this semi-limited release instant classic, which i am about to drive 2 hours to see.

Review by Ruprect.

******************** (20/20)

Everybody was Kung Fu fighting.

Chances are, you wonít need to read to the end of this sentence to decide to watch
director Ang Leeís masterpiece of cinema. By now, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
has garnered so much well-deserved hype that any self-respecting movie fan would be
foolish not to see it.

For the uninitiated, allow me to go through the motions. The time: early 19th
century China, a place of honor and strict tradition. The setting: luscious
landscapes, from arid desert to green mountains with waving bamboo forests. The people:
Li Mu Bai (ever brilliant Chow Yun-Fat, the Asian Robert DeNiro) wants out of the warrior
biz. Heís a master swordsman whoís slain many bad guys with his mysteriously
powerful Green Destiny saber (think Jedi sans martial arts), but now seeks retirement.
When his sword is stolen from his assistant Yu Shu Lien (the magnificent Michele Yeoh), he
suspects Jade Fox (Pei-pei Cheng), the assassin who killed his master.

CTHD is first and foremost a fantasy martial arts film. With emphasis on the word
“fantasy,” the characters at times defy gravity, so donít be taken aback by
the exorbitant amount of wire use. If you were impressed by The Matrix, youíll
be stunned at not only the stunts but the beauty that Lee manages to convey.

The sheer logistics of this film boggles my mind. Itís no coincidence that Wu-Ping
took the reigns of choreographing this epic. Heís the best in the business, and after
his brilliance with The Matrix, heís soon to be a household name in the West
as he already is in the East. Every kick and parry is like an intricate dance, every bound
and flight a graceful ballet. From rooftops to treetops, from ponds to waterfalls, the
amazement is simply boundless.

Perhaps even more remarkable is that Lee managed to balance this seemingly
uncontrollable action with several engaging story lines. There is the complex relationship
between Mu Bai and Shu Lien. Both warriors, they are stubbornly independent and have
repressed their feelings for each other for years.

Meanwhile wealthy Sir Teís daughter, Jen Yu, is discontent with her life and
unhappy still with her arranged marriage. Enchanted by Shu Lienís warrior code, Jen
desires a life of her own. Sheís played splendidly by 21 year old actress SIZE="2">Ziyi Zhang, who brings a remarkable level of strength and confidence to
her role, considering the film basically revolves around her. Her scenes especially are
very delicate and well paced. Itís no wonder actually, given Leeís track record
(Sense and Sensibility and The Ice Storm).

The truly unique part of CTHD is how well it excels at being two films in one.
Literally yin and yang, CTHD is simultaneously a chick flick and a Kung Fu
blockbuster. Between blindingly fast fight scenes are interspersed touching (yes,
thatís right, I said “touching”) love scenes. And Iím not talking
token babes swooning for their protective karate-kicking men. Iím talking genuine
equal-opportunity emotion between warrior woman and warrior man. Even more exhilarating is
the female characters kicking at least as much butt as their male counterparts. That Lee
could make such a radical transition is simply amazing. At the same time it was probably
the best marriage of genres, giving emotional depth to a testosterone playing field.

I should mention that for those afraid of foreign films, yes it is subtitled. But
donít let that hinder you from seeing it. The dialogue is Mandarin Chinese, which
according to Lee and all the purists is the language of choice for a martial arts film.
Apparently itís more pleasing to the ear than the other dialects. It was all Greek to
me, but it wasnít that hard to follow as the sentences are well broken up into
manageable chunks, and thereís more than enough jaw-dropping action to keep your

Watching this film gave me that childish giddiness I havenít felt since the
original Star Wars. Itís veritable movie magic. So if youíre still
reading, please stop immediately. Go see Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Twice. The
Kung Fu lover and novice alike wonít be disappointed.

10 Responses to “Movie Review: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”

  1. wobegon Says:

    a bad pun and perhaps a tad tasteless . . .

    what an oddly appropriate title! as both OpenGL and BONE both appear to be crouching and hidden from view.
    /me ducks from flame wave

  2. chuck Says:

    [No Subject]

    Thanks Nutcase - I’d heard about this film awhile back but didn’t catch the title. If it makes it here (subtitled films really never caught on in OKC) it’ll probably show only a week. Might have to drive to Dallas or catch it on video.


  3. sadistic_mystic Says:

    [No Subject]

    I saw it, fun to watch.. semi-good plot. The fight scenes were good eye candy but completely and utterly unrealistic. A lot of that was done for stylistic reasons. (A lot of “flying by force of will”) But overall not a bad flick. I give it a 5.5 rating on a 10 scale.

    I am not sure if anything will ever measure up to Fist of Legend.

  4. seether Says:

    [No Subject]

    I thought this movie was great. go see it. now.

  5. kurros Says:

    In Response To chuck @ 12/28/2000 00:22:53 AM

    Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon Release Dates

    December 9
    NY - New York

    December 15
    CA - Los Angels

    December 22
    CA - San Francisco, San Jose, Palo Alto, Berkley, San Diego, Santa Barbra, Marin County
    NY - Buffalo, Albany
    MA - Boston
    IL - Chicago
    TX - Dallas, Houston
    CO - Denver
    WA - Seattle
    MO - St. Louis, Kansas City
    DC - Washington
    NM - Santa Fe
    DE - Philadelphia

    January 22
    OH - Cleveland
    TX - Austin, Ft. Worth
    CO - Boulder
    FL - Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, West Palm Beach
    NJ - New Tristate Area
    CT - Connecticut
    NJ - New Jersey
    OR - Portland
    MD - Baltimore

    January 19
    GA - Atlanta
    RI - Rhode Island
    UT - Salt Lake City
    PA - Pitssburgh
    WI - Madison
    NM - Albuquerque
    TX - San Antonio
    MI - Detroit

    February 2
    FL - Tampa
    OH - Cincinnati, Columbus

    February 9
    OK - Oklahoma
    TN - Memphis

    February 16
    LA - New Orleans
    NC - Raleigh, Charlotte
    GA - Savannah

  6. Anonymous Says:

    [No Subject]

    That has to be one of the best movies I’ve seen in quite a while. When you consider the fact that the movie was made for a 10 million dollar budget, and it far surpases what too often comes out of Hollywood for 10 times that ammount, I thin director Ang Lee diserves all the praise that is going along with this movie.

    A note on the reviw, Jen is actually the daughter of Govenor Yu, not Sir Te. I have to say, I have been rather impressed with the movie reviews here on BeGroovy, I hope to see more of them.

    One thing that I think will stick in my mind forever is when I stood up from my seat and saw this Chinese family behind me, their young daughters were complaining about how the flying didn’t make any sense, but the parents both had this look of pure joy on their faces. I’ve only seen that look on people’s faces at things like the ‘Men at Work’ reunion concert, seeing something from the past that is just too perfect.

    I’m lucky, it’s showing near my house, but I would advise everyone do what they can to see it in the theater, while it will be fantastic on Video/DVD, the big screen really adds something.


  7. Ruprect Says:

    In Response To Anonymous @ 01/01/2001 6:57:16 PM


    Thanks, Anon, for that correction. I guess I was one of those viewers with dumb happy faces when I saw it.

    Keeping up with the characters was at times a chore when there was so much cool action happening. Thanks for reading, BTW!

  8. Jake Says:

    In Response To sadistic_mystic @ 12/29/2000 5:00:58 PM

    Re: [No Subject]

    It’s called Wu Xia, which, as far as I understand, means mystical warrior. It is a style of story telling in China that blends magic and martial arts. Remeber that this movie was intended for chinese audiences, and to them this is the type of stuff they grew up reading. I’m sure super hero movies seem “completely and utterly unrealistic” to them as well.

  9. Anonymous Says:


    I just watched CTHD tonight and was overwhelmed by the total essence of the movie. I agree that this is probably equal in importance to Star Wars, 13th Warrior and a few other select movies. The fluidness of the entire film was awe inspiring to say the least. Everything from the fight scenes to the plots themselves, all moved with the spirit of Tao. I must admit that I will probably go watch it again and assuredly will purchase a copy when it goes on the market. I think the movie has restored the child in me, even more so than the great movie Peter Pan…Wendy isn’t the only woman that can fly now :) Much to ponder…

  10. Donover Sandra Corsover Says:

    God had some serious quality-control problems.

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