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I'm not at all familiar with the sub genre of Chinese storytelling that
film is associated with/belongs to, so for all I know it might be a very
poor example from an area of entertainment with a lot more to offer. But
that's true, then this is a truly stellar genre, as I adore this
Yes, it's slow-burning. Yes, the plot could be taken on the surface as paper thin. But this is cinematic escapism at it's very best. It makes me cringe when people criticise the film because the fight scenes are ridiculously unrealistic. Some people just don't get it. It helps to think of the battles as dances, balletic visual poetry (indeed Michelle Yeoh's background is in dance, not martial arts). "Crouching Tiger" contains some of the most equisite set pieces I've seen on film -the first fight scene between the two female leads, the bar brawl, and the lyrical final scene in the mountain- come immediately to mind. However, I found the treetop chase to be lacking somewhat in execution- it's a concept with good potential, but it translates clumsily onto screen.
The visual genius on display is supported by a beautifully subtle performance from Michelle Yeoh, contrasted by the starkly vital presence of Zhang Zi (I know I've spelt that wrong, oh well :S). They both eat up the screen with their charisma- you genuinely cannot take your eyes away from them. Yeoh is all slight quivers beneath deliberate control, eyes fixed in enigmatic amusement, potential tears always seeming only a moment away. Zi uses her incredible, manga-like eyes to convey likeable innocence when she playing at being the aristocrat, mischief when she is quipping like the all-American action heros so popular in the films made the other side of the Pacific, and an incredible anger when in the fight scenes. Zi is supported excellently by her eminently likeable, equally charismatic love interest, the ragged desert-dwelling thief. However Yeoh is, unfortunately, not matched by her male counterpart Chow Yun Fat, who turns in an oddly dispassionate, uninvolving performance. However, it's possible that he was good in the film, but the sizeable talent surrounding him merely suffocated any possibility of him coming across as anything more than mediocre.
And now onto the plot- often accused of being far too simple and "high-concept" for such a critically acclaimed film. I would disagree. Certainly, this isn't an exercise in senseless "the-plot-rules-all" film making promoted by many a summer movie. The plot not only serves the characters, but IS the characters, their interactions and relationships. The restrained dynamic between Yun Fat and Yeoh is played against the sparky, lusty affair between Zi the aristo and her lowly bit of criminal scruff (the latter being standard escapist, fairy tale fluff, executed perfectly). The final scene between Yeoh and Yun Fat's characters is infinitely more interesting than lesser film makers would make it, as there is no tragic final kiss, merely tears and regret. Perhaps the most interesting character dynamic is between the aging female outlaw Jade Fox, and her supposed muse, Zi.
The rave reviews this film recieved seems to have led to a lot of bitterness from viewers who were dissapointed by it. If you are accustomed to frenetically edited and paced action movies (and don't get me wrong, I love those movies when they're well done), or bone crunchingly realistic/gory fight scenes, this may not be for you. The film is often ponderous, concentrating on the characters and/or lush scenery as opposed to plot twists on every page. The fight scenes aren't about violence, but the beauty of two bodies communicating, an acrobatic, high speed dance of wills.
All in all: great performances, great cinematography, great direction, great scenery, great ending, great music, great set pieces, great characters. Great film.
"Wo hu cang long" aka "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" is a timeless
adventure tale, which takes place in ancient China, the eternal empire
of heroes, gods and miracles. Li Mu Bai is a great warrior whose good
deeds are known all around East. He decides to give his magical jade
sword to an old friend of his, but a mysterious martial arts expert
manages to steal the ancient weapon. Li must find out the identity of
the thief and find his precious sword. But, the way of a warrior isn't
as straightforward - love and honour have their own demands.
I'm a big fan of Asian film making and to really watch Asian films you need this certain perspective, especially when it comes to these zen-films. Nevertheless this movie isn't a typical Asian film, as I'd more describe it as a film where Asian film making and Hollywood collide. You could think that it all goes wrong in the Hollywood -part, but for your surprise it doesn't. Ang Lee has created a fine piece of quality style, where you can sense both Asian and Hollywood which blend together like butter for a bread. The story, originally written by Du Lu Wang and turned into a screenplay by three writers, is absolutely beautiful, it includes twists and turns, it's dramatic and romantic, it's even thrilling and it has spectacular fighting sequences. To me the reason why this stands out from an usual eastern movie and where you can really know it's also Hollywood is the somehow different, even better, flow in the story and the amount of fighting sequences. Despite that I think this movie is suitable for both Asian and American audience, not forgetting the rest of the world. Each one gets satisfaction and you don't have to be a fan of Asian films or know anything about the history behind zen-movies, although you really need to be open minded.
This leads me to, once again, the one thing I think Asian directors are better than any other directors of different nationalities; The cinematography. If you'd think there isn't anything Asian in this film, you can't deny the fact that the cinematography is. Once again we are shown endless landscapes, mind painted sceneries and this undeniable and precise harmony of professional operation of the camera, which is to me just amazing. It holds this beauty which you can't compare to anything else and that, if something, is the real heart of true dedication of Asian film makers. You can't really do anything else than just thank them about it, but it's enough that you know it yourself. These landscapes are complimented with the utterly tremendous music composed by Tan Dun, who has composed a main theme that'll melt the heart of even the most cynical person. For Asian film making it's very common to fit the music with the cinematography and the story, but I just can't get enough of it, it's always just that good and you just don't get bored of it. The best thing about the music is that you can't hear music like it in any other films, so it's always fresh for your ears if you've only watched movies from Hollywood. Asian instruments are always strong and compelling, being really significant for the overall feeling of the film and what's left after it.
Even the role performances are excellent, so you'll get a full quality package. I think Yun-Fat Chow as Li Mu Bai makes his best role performance yet to date and Michelle Yeoh as Yu Shu Lien makes some pretty damn fine job as well. Ziyi Zhang is again the beautiful herself, being also a great actress as well, which makes her one of my favourite Asian actresses at the moment. Yun-Fat Chow and Michelle Yeoh have a really good chemistry with each other, which is somehow reflected as the chemistry between Ziyi Zhang and her co-star Chen Chang. Both couples work with each other superbly on screen, so the movie isn't a let down even in that department. When you get along with film you realise that these couples are sort of equal to each other, only that the characters have different names and the stories behind them are different; It's all about love in the end and when we finally get to the end there's an astonishing solution where tears won't be spared. When love and honour have their own demands they will become equal to each other, love will become honour and vice versa. It's really hard to explain and even harder to find out, but in any case the viewer isn't left without answers. You can make up your own mind about the ending though, so it's also really clever.
"Wo hu cang long" is without a doubt one of the best Asian films I've ever seen, everything in it matches and clicks, everything just gets along. The film isn't perfect, but to be honest it's really close in being one. It doesn't really have any major flaws and even the minor ones can't be explained. Like mentioned before you really need a certain perspective, or you need to be at least open minded, because let's face it; A film like this isn't for everyone. If you can't stand any films which define the laws of physics or which are somehow surreal I wouldn't really recommend this film to you. If you're just slightly open minded or at least have some remains of an open mind then please do watch it, as I'd say you won't be disappointed. "Wo hu cang long" even won a total of four Academy Awards, which is really an achievement for a foreign film. Just to name two, it won Oscars from the best cinematography and music, so I'm really not praising them for nothing. Just see this film. You even may be surprised by its magic and its affect on you.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A wonderfully lyrical film, "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" literally
flows from beginning to end. From my perspective, I see the story not
as a martial arts movie, but one with martial arts in it, done in a way
to move the story along. The tone and intensity of each fight scene
conveys a different emotion; Shu Lien's recovery of the Destiny Sword
inspires loyalty, Jen's battles with Lo in the desert call to mind
youthful innocence and aggression, Li Mu Bai's fatal battle with Jade
Fox tempers revenge with justice. Each in it's own fashion has a way of
confirming - "When it comes to emotions, even great heroes can be
CTHD is one of those defining films that takes it's particular genre to new levels, much like "Star Wars" did for sci-fi, and "The Exorcist" did for horror. It's choreography and wire work blend perfectly with gorgeous natural beauty and crisp cinematography. It can be enjoyed and understood on many levels, and if your mood simply calls for a well styled action film, it works that way too. Today's viewing was my third, and it allowed for a better understanding of the story with the special effects a complement to it and not a distracting 'wow'.
"Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" is one of the most recent of a number of cinema treats that I regard as perfect. Sure, one could change a word here, or trim a second or two from a scene there, but to what purpose? There's just no way I can imagine substantively improving this masterpiece. Great story, great actors (male and female), and magnificent action sequences. And scenes don't come along very often that are as touching as the final one with Chow Yun Fat and Michelle Yeoh. See it on a big screen if you haven't already. See it again on a big screen if you have. Then watch the fine DVD release from Sony. My only suggestion there is to stick with the subtitled version; the dubbed audio track just doesn't work at all, in my opinion. Thank you Ang Lee and all others involved.
The first time I heard about this movie was on NPR(National Public
Radio).Teri Gross was interviewing someone about the movie and it
I got a chance to see it on HBO about a month or so later and I was so moved by it,the next time it came on I made a tape of it.My wife then bought me a DVD copy when see realized how much it had moved me.
Although the DVD can be programmed to broadcast it in a number of options,I prefer it in the original Cantonese w/subtitles.Somehow the English speaking version loses some of the emotion.
The part that really moved me to tears was when as Le Mui Bai(Sp)lay dying and utters his last words.It impressed me enough to paint it on the back of my automobile with a dedication to my wife.I guess it sums up my feelings for her.
Thank you for an incredible movie.
"Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Wo hu cang long)" is breathtakingly
beautiful, the scenery, the cinematography, the martial arts
But what a surprise that Ang Lee as the director of "Sense and Sensibility" incorporates that into the movie too!
While my younger son just wanted to know upon my return from the theater if the martial arts were like "Matrix," my husband sneered that it was too balletic (not a compliment from him), and I think what he really meant is that this is a chick flick.
I totally didn't anticipate that this would be a sophisticated love story, let alone about two couples, and the various permutations of their relationships with each other, their teachers and their families. So this is really Jane Austen done as a mythic Chinese warrior movie.
Michelle Yeoh is absolutely, maturely, captivating, especially in her sword fights with her protégé.
"Over the hills and through the woods" or "up on the roof" or "wade in the water" never had quite so literal yet so magical meanings as shown here. It makes for brilliant cinema.
The music, with Yo Yo Ma solos, is wonderful.
(originally written 1/20/2001)
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
As an avid moviegoer I cannot understand the life of me the fascination
this movie. It lacks so much and I can't believe people fail to see it.
movie has got action... great action but does it have plot? No. Does it
characterization?? No. Is it worthy a 9.0 rating? Absolutely
Like I stated before, I thought the action scenes were really exciting, the un-realistic ness of it seemed a little silly at first but I soon got used to it and thought it was well done and cool. But the action was basically the only thing I thought was fantastic about the film.
I really felt the film lacked in characterization and plot, it also dragged on really long and had plenty of useless scenes. For example the flashback scene in the desert could have been cut down to a mere 10 mins instead of the 20 or so mins it ended up to be. There were allot of pointless scenes that dragged out the movie, but it's the plot in general that suffered, there really wasn't a point to it all but based on the background of the story I felt there could have been had they focused more on the characters.
WARNING SPOILERS AHEAD PLEASE DO NOT READ IF YOU WANT TO SEE THE FILM.
I never liked Jen's character. I thought she was really a bitch for lack of better words and at the end of the film her switch over to the good guys side seemed not only too predictable but ill timed. When Chow Yun Fat's character died I really didn't care or feel any emotional connection to him as all the scenes of Jen running around here and there should have been replaced with scenes to build on his character.
I also didn't like the way the whole Jade Fox thing was resolved, the movie sort of drifted from that plot with all the Jen scenes especially that much too long desert flashback when we came back to the main plot I was a little confused. The story never really went anywhere and them the movie just ended. It wasn't well thought out plot but the backstory had huge potential.
Based on all this I'd have to give it a thumbs down. I would NOT recommend it and I don't understand why people seem to think it's such a great film. Iin a rating out of 10 I'd only have to give it about a 5.
This film had me gripped from start to finish. I had previously tuned
into a dubbed version about half way through, but the cheesiness
immediately changing the channel.
Watching the film in original Chinese, I was breathtaken. The action is perfectly timed, always relevant (Except perhaps the teahouse scene, but that was damn good fun!) and always eye-poppingly good. As well as all this the story is superb, and has a great climax.
some people complain that there is no reason to the flying. But these people are unable to experience escapism and enjoy this movie to the full.
How this movie could be nominated for Best Picture is astounding. I guess it shows how weak the field really was. First, the good parts. The direction was very good, as was the cinematography. It was a beautiful film to look at, and the martial arts scenes were well edited and choreographed. The Bad Parts: plot, acting, story, martial arts. The plot has huge holes in it. Perhaps it loses something in the translation. Without giving anything away, why does Jen walk up the long stairs near the end when she can fly? Why doesn't Li just kill the bad guy when they first meet? The ending: I walked out of the theatre scratching my head going "huh?" There is no exploration of the character of Jen. She is simply a spoiled rich brat. And any transformation that she may or may not have had is not built up over time. It just happens. Or maybe she's just a spoiled brat who didn't get her way. The acting is difficult to judge fairly, since the dialogue was in mandarin and I don't understand it. But it was typically wooden, which artists might want to call stoic. The martial arts were ridiculous. While it was well choreographed and well performed, flying through the air? I kept waiting for Obi Wan to say, "use the force Li". Some people have equated it with "The Matrix". In the Matrix you could suspend belief because it wasn't real, it was virtual reality. Well here on terra firma the laws of physics still apply. If I were a producer, I would just make sure I filmed a movie in China with elaborate costumes and sets, and I would know I would have several invitations on Oscar night.
I admit i liked the fight scenes, but come on, why is everyone pushing for
this movie to win so many awards? It was very predictable, and not that
visually stimulating. All it took was some people swinging around on wires,
and some computer graphics people to erase them to get the affects.
I only hope that the people actually voting for the Oscars does NOT vote for this movie! there are a lot of other movies deserving the award.
Just my humble opinion.
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