Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)

Crouching

Genre: Drama, Action/Adventure

Cast: Chow Yun-Fat, Michelle Yeoh, Zhang Ziyi

Synopsis: The unhappy daughter of an aristocrat steals a legendary sword belonging to a master swordsman. Bitches get cut!

This film really doesn’t need any introduction on my part. Everyone and their grandmother has heard of, and hopefully seen, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. When it was released, this film was met with a great deal of fanfare and awards recognising the film’s story, cinematography, and fight choreography. I was eleven years old when this film was released and I watched it multiple times because I was at that age where I thought martial arts was really cool and nothing appealed to me more than ninjas and Scorpion ripping out Sub Zero’s spine with his bare hands. The film’s fight sequences certainly satisfied when I was younger but I was too young to appreciate some of the film’s subtle strengths.

Usually when I watch movies for this blog I will write notes on a sheet of paper. That way I can keep track of what happened in the film and also remember any funny things I may have thought or said. As much as I love Mary Jane, she has a tendency to affect my short term memory. I didn’t write any notes for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. ‘Why is that?’ I hear you ask. It’s because I could not take my eyes off of this film or tear myself away from the plot unfolding in front of me.

The cinematography in this film is beyond exquisite. Peter Pau really deserved the Oscar for his work on this film. In my honest opinion, this film’s cinematography rivals Chinatown. If you were to press pause at any point in the movie, each and every frame could be a masterful photograph. The scenery, whether in a barren desert or a lush bamboo forest, bursts with vibrant colour and, at times, it’s hard to believe that you are looking at a real place. It almost feels like the film takes place in some mythical and exotic realm.

While the film is chock-a-block with visual splendour, it also benefits from an engaging story filled with characters the audience can like and care about. Jen, wonderfully played by Zhang Ziyi in her major breakthrough performance, is the seemingly delicate aristocrat’s daughter who is forced into an arranged marriage with a man she does not love. Yearning to break free and live the lives of her idols, she steals a major piece of sword-bling owned by one of her idols. Graceful violence ensues. Ziyi was perfect for the role and she injects strength, fragility, and poise into her role. Her background as a dancer really shines through and every move she makes coveys a deeper meaning. Her performance would suit ballet or an extravagant opera, which is kind of what this film is.

Both Michelle Yeoh and Chow Yun-Fat also deliver good performances but it’s their martial arts prowess which really stood out. The choreography in the fight scene with Ziyi and Yeoh was jaw-droppingly incredible. I have never seen people move like that. Of course, some of it had to be done with wires but so much of it wasn’t. If there’s one thing I learnt from this movie, it’s never to get on Yeoh’s bad side. Bitch will cut you. To. The. Bone. You have been warned.

High-lights:

  • Sumptuous visuals.
  • Mind-shatteringly awesome fight scenes.
  • Zhang Ziyi’s performance.
  • Surprisingly quotable…. “Wudang is a whorehouse!!!”

Downers:

  • The Chinese language is not always the easiest to read when you’re baked.

Summary:

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is an absolute must for film lovers and foreign film aficionados. It is easily one of the best films to come out of Asia. EVER. This film really has it all: visuals, action, sympathetic characters, exciting story, history, swords. Actually, that’s a lie. It doesn’t have everything: there are no boobs and there is no peen either. However, I’m willing to overlook that stuff because a random boob/penis shot wouldn’t have made much sense in this film.

10/10

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4 Comments

Filed under Action/Adventure, Drama, Mind Blowingly Awesome

4 responses to “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)

  1. There was exactly ONE problem I had with the movie: I kind of felt like even though this movie was made in 2000, the special effects kind of didn’t survive the test of time. When I saw this movie last year, to me some of the effects looked comparable to the original 1983 release of Return of the Jedi.

    Despite that, the movie more than made up for it with the fight choreography. The choreographer was the same guy who choreographed those in The Matrix, so it’s reasonable to assume CTHD’s would be top-notch as well. More than that, the reason CTHD really, really succeeded as a martial arts movie, in my mind, was the strength of its story and characters.

    Oh, and seeing Zhang Ziyi kick the crap out of guys is always a good time too. 😛

    • Yeah there were a couple of parts which looked a little dated. I’ll tell you one film that doesn’t look dated: Aliens. I watched that quite recently and was completely blown away by how good it still looks. It’s a shame all films can’t be like that.

      Is the new CTHD movie getting the same fight choreographer?

  2. Abbi

    I love this movie. It just looks beautiful and the story is enrapturing.

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