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Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon

Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon

 

Title - Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon
My Admission - $7.25
One Line Review - It's As Good As You Think.

 

Review - Ang Lee's new film is set in a China I'm not sure exists. A China, represented by mythologies I'm unfamiliar with; sadly.  But it makes little difference in the end as Lee draws us into a world of fantasy made real and repression made alive.

Chow Yun Fat stars as Li Mu Bai a Wudan trained warrior who's grown tired of his way of life.  Even though his Master's death has gone un-avenged, Mu Bai will relinquish his sword to a trusted friend in Peking.  His hope is then to slip silently into a quiet life with Yui Hsui Lien (Michelle Yeoh) the woman he has yearned for many years.

All of this falls apart when the sword is stolen by an individual who appears to be Wudan trained as well.  Mu Bai & Lien become involved in a game of trickery and deceit as Jade Fox (the killer of Mu Bai's Master) reappears with a young understudy who's very handy with Mu Bai's sword.

This story is intermingled with a love story.  That of the new Governor's daughter, Jen (Zhang Zi Yi), who's the bride in an arranged marriage but as her story unfolds we learn that a short time ago Jen found real love in the arms of a desert criminal, Lo (Chang Chen) who raided her parents wagon train.  Their time together on screen is one of the more entertaining aspects of the film, and not the emotional core.

The interweaving of these opposing stories is what draws us into the emotion of the film.  The repression of emotions and actions portrayed by each character brings a true sadness to Crouching Tiger.  As do some amazing cello solos by Yo-Yo Ma.

Like Ang Lee's earlier efforts, 'Sense & Sensibility' and The Ice Storm', he's created, here, a film of strong, determined women. Michelle Yeoh is great and Zhang Zi Yi is a firecracker.  I cannot find the name of the actress who portrays Jade Fox but she's just as strong and as deadly as Yeoh and Yi.  Crouching Tiger is really their film.  I won't call this a 'Chinese Chick Flick' but that wouldn't be too far from the truth.

The Matrix fight choreographer, Yuen Wo Ping delivers some of the fastest and cleanest fight sequences I've seen as well as some in places you wouldn't imagine seeing a fight sequence; like in a tree. It's trippy.

Which brings me back to the mythology I do not understand.  My understanding of the things I witnessed while watching this film, such as flying people, running up and down trees, skipping across rooftops, etc.  are all believed traits of Chinese mythology or semi related Ninja mythology.  I understand none of it so I don't want to put my foot in my mouth but don't watch Crouching Tiger as camp, because it's not.  It is a fantasy and one steeped in reality.

Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon is a great film.  An although subtitled, very little is lost in the translation, so much that my 11 year old had no trouble following it and now he thinks he's ready for Kirosawa films

-m-



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Turn Down The Lights, Turn Up The Sound.

Matthew Gilbert © 1999-2015 All Rights Reserved

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