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|Index||1633 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The incredible nature of this movie lies in the nature of the incredible... and making it believable. Of course, in reality, I don't believe that people can fly. But, for this two hours, there was not one thing about transcending to higher plane of existence and having that transcendence manifest itself as hyper-natural abilities that did not make sense. Certainly, it was much more realistic than the common one-punch knockout so easily accepted in action films today. The incredible cinematography and heart-wrenching main theme were only prologue to an even more incredible story, one of love and hate that combined with angst and hope and heartbreak to form a web that the viewer, if one is of any feeling and emotion at all, could not help but be tangled in. Those who have less-than-stellar appreciation for this outstanding cinematic masterpiece mainly complain that they were anticipating something other than what this film gave them, but have little issue with the film itself not delivering well what it delivers: the consummation and pain of new love contrasted with the heartbreaking tragedy of love that endures only through a veil of tradition and honor.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Ang Lee is one of two best mainstream directors working today who has deliberately worked in different styles, genres, artistic philosophies even. (The other is Ridley Scott.) Here he tries to inject art and majesty in a common vehicle. To remain true to the vehicle, he must use a thin story (though with numerous threads) and an understated acting style. I think this understated focus on faces helps make the subtitles more palatable than they would be otherwise. They are also larger and higher than normal, so one's eye doesn't have to jump so much from face to word. There's no question that this film was conceived with the western reading eye in mind.
Lee pumps up the skeleton well enough with grand vistas and wonderful sets. The vision is surreal, which befits the mythical drama. In this and several other ways, he greatly surpasses the `Star Wars' feel. I must say that the final cave/warehouse was too theatrical -- it just didn't fit the rest. Some of the mattes are annoyingly fakey. The bambootop fight was ungraceful. But those are relative nits.
What I wanted in this film was a whole new level in choreographing the CAMERA during fight scenes. I know this is a hot topic among directors just now, and think he is quite up to the challenge. He has already shown mastery of the inside, emotional camera, and the notion of bringing this to dance excited me. He teases with some spectacular camera movement, but it is always in a conventional frame. Guess he wanted to sell a lot of tickets instead of reinvent the medium.
What I mean: with the fights, you have several characters, the two (or howevermany) fighters, the swords, the viewer and the camera. In a good film, some of these will merge. In a masterful production that merger will shift so that the camera is the sword, the viewer, then the fighter. (Here, the green sword IS a central fighter.) But add to that the complication of the idiom: each fighter and weapon is actually just a token for the master. Each fight is a battle between invisible characters, whose perspective the camera can also take.
Lee plays these fights too safe, and it really annoys because he shows us ever so fleetingly what he can do. Sometimes, the camera is the sword, sometimes the master, but in teasing glimpses only. He's concerned with making sense, and that requires sticking to convention. Maybe as he gets older, he'll do this again, but with more multidimensional vision, more enlightenment, less concern for the general viewer.
But check out the fight scores. This drummer knows the dimensions we're talking about, because he follows Lee's camera when it leaves the body. Cool.
This film also has the sexiest literary scene I've ever experienced. (And that counts the lush "Pillow Book.") It will be worth owning for that 15 seconds alone. Watch Jen's calligraphy, obviously done by a master. You won't ever forget it now that I've pointed it out. Watch the subtle camera movement. The whole of `Quills' in a few seconds! That reading eye again.
There's not much that cannot be said in praise for this director and
not anything that deletes from a masterpiece like Crouching Tiger...
Despite a relatively small number of films listed in IMDb, the actual
list of nominations and awards given to Ang Lee's films speaks for
itself - lately in connection with the Academy Awards late last night
which yielded three well-deserved prizes for Brokeback Mountain.
It is good to see a director who is in full command of everything, who has a strong sense of poetry and who communicates true epic grandness on a scale that can be used at its full advantage whether the film is set in the Far East (Crouching Tiger...) or in the "Wild" West of USA (Brokemack Mountain). I think the greatest impression I have from these two films is a strong and warm feeling of humanity and frailty seen through an epic dimension similar to that of Akiro Kurosawa's last films, with no signs of coyness and no cloying sentimentality - Ang Lee has a straightforward approach to human suffering that can appeal to anyone, anywhere, as well as a sense of humour that gives the audience just the right degree of distance without any feeling of estrangement.
Having been a Kurosawa devotee for most of my adult life (I'm in my sixties) I was greatly relieved when, after seeing Crouching Tiger..., I could lean back and know that the Japanese master of the cinema at last had a true and worthy successor. Brokeback Mountain confirmed this impression fully.
And I'm sure that together with many other cinema-goers I can look forward to his next venture, convinced that whatever subject matter, setting and era he might choose, we can expect something truly original and spectacular (in the true sense of that word) and at the same time an intimate and personal experience...
First, I don't think it matters that there are subtitles and the language is Chinese. The story is strong and moves along smoothly. The fighting scenes are worth watching alone. The actors are choreographed to dance and fight with you just wanting to see who defeats. The story is also told with great costumes, art direction, and scenery. The stars of this film are Asian actors and actresses who don't get enough work in this business. While the subtitles might throw you off, it's not hard to understand what's going on by studying their actions, movements, and facial expressions. If Ang Lee had the actors talk in English throughout the film, I don't think it would have lost much value to me since I'm not Asian or Chinese or the audience. I believe that this is one of the best foreign language films of the last decade and it was awarded an Oscar for Foreign Language Film. Although I don't think Ang Lee cared about awards in making this film, this film has female characters who are both strong and equal to the male characters in the film. The females sometimes steal the scenes from the men. It's nice to see women portrayed as strong, equals than emotional inferior characters. They are equally adept at the fighting scenes and they give their all to those scenes. When you think of Ang Lee's other films, nothing could really master the beauty and uniqueness of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
After watching this movie I felt both puzzled and disappointed. As a matter of fact,being a couch potato I usually admire martial arts films when they are life-like and plausible (e.g. Jackie Chan films, Bruce Lee films and Jet Li). The stunts of that film were very much artificial: characters seem to be dancing, not fighting, and it's very disconcerting to see people perform tricks obviously suspended from thin lines. I believe such awkward glorification of the characters' mastership only does them wrong, as it looks funny and destroys the intended effect. If the whole story is meant to be a fairy tale, then let it have more attributes of such, then flying and water-skimming won't seem so ridiculous. The female parts were much better than that of Chow Yun Fat, at least they were capable of some emotion and he was "too far gone on the way to perfection". The only thing I liked is the jump of Jen in the last moment of the film and the legend about making wishes come true.
I was very impressed with Ang Lee's 1997 film, The Ice Storm, but I'd been
avoiding Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon since I first saw previews for it
weeks before it opened. Then, because of unexpected circumstances and a
slightly aroused curiosity, I recently found myself in line for a ticket
with a couple of friends. As I predicted, in spite of some accolades from
various critics and others, the film just didn't work for
One of the things that bugs me about this movie is the fact that it utilizes
very natural, realistic settings, characters and events with two glaring
exceptions: people flying through the air and a lack of displayed passion
between two of the main characters. As far as the flying thing is concerned,
the film just isn't whimsical or fantastic enough to have characters
breaking into Peter Pan gymnastics at the drop of a hat. Here is a very real
and beautiful environment with people leading essentially believable lives
punctuated with kung fu histrionics; yet every once in a while they fly
around. Granted, the flying sequences are stupendously handled and somewhat
fascinating, but they're just a bit too over-the-top for the overall tone of
Another important aspect of the film that deflates its potential impact is
the alleged passion between two of the main characters. Action man Yun-Fat
Chow plays Li Mu Bai, a warrior ready to retire his prized sword. His love
interest is an equally agile Yu Shu Lien, played by Michelle Yeoh.
Supposedly they love each other and always have. You know the drill...one of
those long-standing, unrealized love affairs that seethes under the surface
for decades. Yet their mutual chemistry and passion is not obvious enough to
be engaging or captivating to the viewer. It's not until the very end that
we finally get a strong sense of their mutual love. Perhaps it's better late
than never, but in this case, one isn't quite sure. As much as anything,
their late burst of passion almost underscores how much more they could have
displayed in previous scenes. Complicating matters, it appears this tendency
is caused by a combination of factors: the material, the actors' abilities,
the direction and possibly even differences in perception from a cultural
Another debilitating element of the film stems from a somewhat convoluted
plot. Li Mu Bai's decision to retire his sword is an important step in his
character's development. Especially important is the location of his sword's
resting place, or in other words, who has possession or control of it. The
problem with this premise is that the sword floats around quite a bit. One
minute it's in one person's hands and the next minute it seems to belong to
An important character in the film is Jen Yu, played by the small but mighty
Ziyi Zhang. As a troublesome young aristocrat engaged to be married, her
motivations are foggy or confusing at times. She seems to flip-flop from
demure and sweet to deadly and nefarious, then back again. Even the man she
eventually seems to fall in love with is subjected to her schizophrenic mood
As with most contemporary films, the cinematography is stunning, enhanced
even more by the beautiful backdrop of China. In fact, someone said China is
the real star of this film, and I'm tempted to agree.
To be honest, I wanted to like Crouching Tiger a lot more than I did, and I
admit I'm unfamiliar with Chinese mythology and literary works.
It could be that in its translation and because of cultural differences, it's the kind of film with a potentially uneven appeal and impact-level.
Why do they need horses if they can fly? What are they fighting for, if nobody wins? So what they died for? That's the point! Thank God they died so the film could come to an end, for absence of characters. And, like those flying idiots, this video could finally fly back to the shelf from where it should never have left.
It's 12 years since the movie was first released that I have a chance
to watch it. I have seen people everywhere recommended it as one of the
most beautiful movie in the China movie industry, and decided to give
it a try.
How lucky I am to be able to enjoy this masterpiece. The acting is just perfect. I like Chow Yun-fat's acting the most. It came as no surprise to me that he is one of the most famous actors in China. His facial expression suits his character, and he and Michelle Yeoh made a great couple on screen, too.
Michelle Yeoh's acting is quite exceptional, and Ziyi Yang is not bad, either.
If you are not familiar with the Chinese cultural then the action might look weird at first but don't worry, you will fall for it in no time!
The story is indeed so beautiful. The ending is heartbreaking.
I love this movie. 10/10
Watching this lyrical movie was simply awesome to this senior citizen who
usually cannot stand martial arts movies. The fight sequences, the
over rooftops, the "walking" up walls and the treetop sequence were
thrilling to me. It was beautifully shot and a good story, fairy tale or
not. I was raised on fairy tales here in the USA. It was a tremendous
experience to view one from another country.
I wish I knew the ages of some of the naysayers. To say this movie is "boring" or, in today's tacky vernacular, "sucked" makes me wonder what such people like in their films. This movie has special effects and action that far surpasses much of the pap that is churned out of Hollywood today.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon may be the best martial arts film ever.
That's not necessarily because it features the best fight scenes or a
lot of them, but because if features a good story and outstanding
acting from the leads. It's been a long time since I've seen an action
film as good as this one. Ang Lee, the director, managed to assemble a
cast of some of the most famous actors from Hong Kong and China.
The fictional story is set in the historic Qing Dynasty in China, in the 43rd year of Emperor Qianlong's reign (1778). Chow Yun-Fat, who's one of my favorite actors, plays Li Mu-bai who's a Wudang master of martial arts and sword fighting. He meets with his long-time friend and partner Yu Shu-lien (Michelle Yeoh), and tells her that he wants to hand over his famous sword the Green Destiny to his friend Sir Te because he wants to leave his warrior life behind but Sir Te decides to keep it for safekeeping in Beijing. In the meantime, Mu-bai intends to commemorate the death of his master, who was murdered long ago by Jade Fox (Cheng Pei-pei), a woman who sought to learn Wudang. In Beijing, Shu-lien delivers the sword and meets Jen (Zhang Ziyi), the daughter of Governor Yu, a Manchu aristocrat. Jen is destined for an arranged marriage, yet yearns for adventure; she becomes fascinated with the warrior Shu-lien. One night, a masked thief sneaks onto Sir Te's estate and steals the Green Destiny. Things go from there.
The fight scenes in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon are spectacular. They were choreographed by Yuen Wo Ping, well known for his work in The Matrix and other films. I kid you not, at one time in the film there's a sword fight on top of bamboo trees. It's both exciting and mystical. The fight scenes are also important in the progress of the story, which is rare in martial arts films. The photography too, is beautiful. The film features a large range of places. Most of the credit should go to director Ang Lee. He said that he set out to make the best martial arts film ever, and I think that he succeeded. Made on a mere US$15 million budget, with dialogue in Mandarin, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon became a surprise international success. It grossed US$128 million in the United States alone, becoming the highest-grossing foreign-language film in American history. The film won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and three other Academy Awards, and was nominated for six other Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
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