Wo hu cang long (2000)

reviewed by
Jerry Saravia


Author: Faust667@aol.com (Jerry Saravia) Subject: Review: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) Approved: graham@ee.washington.edu Newsgroups: rec.arts.movies.reviews Organization: None X-Questions-to: graham@jetcity.com X-Submissions-to: graham@ee.washington.edu Followup-To: rec.arts.movies.current-films Summary: r.a.m.r. #28088 Keywords: author=saravia

CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON
Reviewed on March 28th, 2001
By Jerry Saravia

The title of director Ang Lee's latest was a turn-off to me. I suppose Chinese titles turn me off in general, but something like "A Chinese Ghost Story" made me swoon. Nonetheless, though I can't exactly explain the significance of the title, "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" is one of the most exciting martial-arts films ever made - a glorious, magical thrill ride that Hollywood can only think of aspiring to.

Set in ancient imperial China, we are introduced to the magnetic Yu Shu Lien (Michelle Yeoh), a skillful, graceful warrior who learns that a legendary, powerful sword has been stolen from its owner, Lee Mu Bai (Chow Yun-Fat), another highly skilled warrior and good friend of Yu Shu's. They both try to track down a masked thief, who is almost as graceful as both of them combined. This masterfully trained thief can scale walls and fly with such ease that Yu Shu and Lee Mu are determined to uncover his/her identity. It turns out that the culprit is Jen (Zhang Ziyi), a guest at the home of the respected Sir Te (Lung Sihung). Jen has her emotional problems and pines for a warrior who lives out in the desert netheregions. She is also fierce and hardly tactful - when she gets angry, she is likely to make Robert De Niro shudder with fright. I am not sure anyone would want to be within ten yards of this soaring, sweep-of-of-your-feet presence. Looks like an angel but she is as fierce as a tiger.

The difference between "Crouching Tiger" and several other hundred martial-arts films is in its emotional truths and romantic subplots. We sense that Yu Shu loves Lee Mu and wishes some kind of future for the two of them, even if they are flying high among treetops and rooftops. Jen is the more complicated character of the bunch, she has her questionable loyalty to her mother but also a love for the long-haired warrior of the desert, who makes her feel love over pain (and sometimes both). This magical sword she has stolen gives her a power that she can barely control...and thus, it seems she has little control of her own life.

Yeoh and the often static Chow Yun-Fat (who brims with magnetism in this film) bring heart and soul to "Crouching Tiger" but it is the amazing Zhang Ziyi who soars above them all. She is quick, smart, clever, passionate, tempermental, confident, and genuinely convincing as a warrior with no qualms of fighting her respectful elders - we also sense she could fail but it is quietly compelling to watch this woman trying to balance her world.

Every sequence in "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" is sheerly amazing and wondrous in detail and magnificence. Every fight scene feels honest and truthful, no matter how silly it may seem to some that the characters can fly with grace and agility (China is used to this sort of thing since it relates to their own past legends and numerous other films). Again, it is because of how powerful the characters are - they stand for something and represent their own people but they also have values and morals. Jen is the rebel ready to break down their fortress - she acts out her own feelings rather than repressing them. Essentially, Ang Lee ("Sense and Sensibility") has created his own "Star Wars" for the new millenium. Spectacularly exciting, tense, romantic, dramatic, idiosyncratic at times, "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" stuns our eyes and engages our hearts. George Lucas can only hope of accomplishing this much with his next "Star Wars" opus.

For more reviews, check out JERRY AT THE MOVIES at http://moviething.com/members/movies/faust/JATMindex.shtml

E-mail me with any questions, comments or general complaints at faustus_08520@yahoo.com or at Faust667@aol.com


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