Martial Artistry
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Review by Ross Anthony

What to expect from a Chow Yun Fat kung-fu flick directed by Ang Lee the director of such emotionally wrenching films as "Ice Storm" and "Sense and Sensibility"? Add to this already tantalizing mix, the equally invigorating spices of Michelle Yeoh of Bond fame and "Matrix" choreographer Yuen Wo-Ping, and you get an artistically crafted, warm red-blooded, mandarin-speaking masterpiece.

And like most masterpieces it's moody, dark at times, thought provoking (you'll go home talking about it in the car) and not for everyone.

Though the film ends in a question mark instead of a period, there's hardly a criticism Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragonto make. Paced with the rich flavor and patience of maple syrup, this tiger/dragon drama takes flight during intermittent scuffles - therein lies the real magic.

The instant these women masters take up arms, your jaw will open and remain so, dry tongue and all until the robust bout ends. Your heart will hover as these two graceful fighters race up walls like lizards or moths, then scurrying across rooftops like the butterflies they'll set fluttering in your stomach.

Absolutely A+ ballet beautiful fight sequences.

Perhaps more a film for the opera appreciator than Hong-Kong Kung-fu aficionado, this is a film that takes you on a bareback horse-ride waltz through beauty.

"When it comes to emotions, even great hero's can be idiots." Chow plays the warrior monk; Yeoh his warrior love ... though both are too noble to have commenced a romantic relationship. Tired of the killing, Chow gives away his sword, only to find himself smack Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragonin the middle of the good fight against an evil skilled witch and her lovely, yet wavering, young disciple.

The film harnesses the beauty and grace of a Disney animated feature, while bending, like the supple green bark of bamboo, nearly into the surreal.

Director Ang Lee: "The film is a kind of a dream of China, a China that probably never existed, except in my boyhood fantasies in Taiwan. Of course my childhood imagination was mainly fired by the martial arts movies I grew up with and by the novels of romance and derring-do I read instead of doing my homework. That these two kinds of dreaming should come together now, in a film I was able to make in China, is a happy irony for me."

Writer James Schamus: "The Chinese embedded in every word of this movie has layers and layers of culture and meanings. They simply don't exist to a Western ear. It is one of the truly delicious ironies of this movie, that although I co-wrote it, I'll never fully understand all of its meanings."

  • Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Copyright © 2000. Rated PG-13.
  • Starring Chow Yun Fat, Michelle Yeoh, Zhang Ziyi, Change Chen.
  • Directed by Ang Lee.
  • Written by James Schamus, Wang Hui Ling, Tsai Kuo Jung. Based on the novel by Wang Du Lu.
  • Produced by Bill Kong, Hsu Li Kong, Ang Lee at Sony/Good Machine Int/Columbia Pics Asia.


Copyright © 2000. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit:

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 08:17:10 PDT