In early nineteenth-century China, in the waning years of the Qing dynasty, the renowned swordsman who yearns for enlightenment, Li Mu Bai, decides to give up his legendary Green Destiny sword: the sharp four-hundred-year-old blade of heroes. To mark the end of a blood-stained career, Li entrusts the excellent female warrior, Yu Shu Lien, with the precious weapon to deliver it to Governor Yu; however, once there, an audacious and nimble masked thief manages to steal it. As Shu Lien is hot on the trail of the skilled burglar, unrequited loves; fervent passions; an unconquerable desire for freedom, and bitter loose ends stand in the way. Can Mu Bai shake off his violent past?Written by
(At around 5 minutes) The stamped documents shown by Shu Lien to the guards at the city-gate before she enters Beijing shows the date "in the 43rd year of the reign of (Emperor) Qianlong, the sixth month, the eighth day," which is the year A.D. 1778, somewhere in June or July. See more »
(at around 1h 30 mins) During the fight between Yu Shu Lien and Xiou Long many floor tiles are smashed by Shu Lien. After Shu Lien discards her heavy metal weapon and continues to fight, the tiles appear repaired. See more »
Master Li is here! Master Li is here!
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The opening title appears in Chinese and English. See more »
When aired for the first time on television in Australia (Sunday, 12 September 2004) on their free-to-air international channel SBS, SBS used their own international translators to subtitle the movie from scratch, resulting in quite a few changes reflecting character names (some different spelling, most directly spelt from their Mandarin forms and not changed/altered into more Western forms), and a much closer, 'truer' explanation of events and people than the 'dumbed-down' translation of other DVD releases offer. See more »
Caravan Bells on the Silk Road
Traditional Xinjiang Folk Song
Arranged by Ning Yong
Performed by Bo Liu
Published by China Record Corporation, Shanghai, 1994 See more »
A wondrous mythology, a cinematic masterpiece.
I gave a wry chuckle when the opening credits pronounced Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon a Sony Cinema Classic in the year of its release. However, I too would not have hesitated to brand this film such. It is a cinematic masterpiece that left me in silent reverie at its conclusion.
The film's story unfolds amidst the ancient temples, bamboo forests and painted deserts of nineteenth century China: a sensual, mystical landscape that, at our first high-angle glimpse of Peking takes on a dizzying scale. This world is inhabited by the Wudan, spectral warriors from legend who effortlessly leap between rooftop and bamboo tree, a device which elevates them to a plane divorced from our parochial middle-class values without the loss of their intense humanity. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is an ode to the human spirit that transcends genre; it is at once fantasy, romance, historical epic and thriller, enriched by a subtle humour.
At the film's heart are four compelling performances. Ziyi Zhang, is enchanting as the wilful Jen Yu, daughter of a government official, who aspires to the code of the Wudan. Her destiny is entwined with those of Li Mu Bai (Chow Yun Fat) and Yu Shu Lien (Michelle Yeoh), disciples of this enigmatic clan, and of the desert bandit Lo (Chen Chang) by the theft of an arcane sword, Mu Bai's quest for revenge and the fulfilment of a powerful yet unrequited love
Chow Yun Fat possesses an hypnotic screen presence in his portrayal of this regal master, who displays an unparalleled heroism untainted by western cliché as the film travels inexorably toward his shuddering death-blow. This resonates long after the credit sequence has run and you've marvelled at how few stunt artists were engaged to actualize the film's thrillingly beautiful fight sequences. These are not the idle distractions aimed at a boyish mind we find in other martial arts films but rather a transcendent form of dance. Their exquisitely honed choreography rivals that of Graham Murphy and Twyla Tharp.
Star of these sequences is the four hundred year old Green Destiny sword that exerts a powerful metaphoric presence on the film. It is a sensuous artefact that sings when struck, punctuating Yo-Yo Ma's haunting cello solos, a feature of the immersive soundtrack.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is a film of titanic proportions, with all the pageantry of Kundun, minus the ponderous pace, and without a trace of the cloying sentimentalism which infected Titanic's impoverished narrative. Li Mu Bai's final words are a more fervent declaration of truth than any to have graced the screen before.
After all that, I can offer no further commendation except to say that this is the latest greatest film of my now seemingly hollow existence.
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