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Scott Ventura >> Movie Commentary >> January 2001 >> Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

Movie Commentary by Scott Ventura


Scott's Rating:
4 / 5
Times Seen:
Viewing Date:
January 2001
IMDB Name:
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)
Ang Lee
drama, martial-arts, romance
MPAA Rating:
PG-13 for martial arts violence and some sexuality.

Standing, Cheering

Martial arts movies have long been guilty of mediocre acting and worse writing. They showcase a joyous wedding of ballet and action, but not much else. These compromises are no longer acceptable. The bar has been raised by Ang Lee. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is beautiful as romance, as drama, and as fantasy. Mix in spectacular fighting, and the appeal is universal. The story is loaded with intrigue and passion that are brought to life by an excellent cast working for a director who is better known for his dramas. Add in the epic scope and beauty of movies like The English Patient without all the boring parts, and the result is a winner.

Michelle Yeoh and Chow Yun-Fat, both famous for their action abilities, show off their acting chops. I only know Yeoh from Tomorrow Never Dies and Supercop and Chow from Hard-Boiled. None of those required of either the range they offer here. Relative newcomer Zhang Zi-Yi is quite the blend of athlete and thespian, and I'm glad to see that she's signed on to be a part of the forthcoming Rush Hour 2.

Leaping, Flying

Crouching Tiger is the latest movie for which the amazing Woo-ping Yuen, has served as fight choreographer. Yuen made the characters of The Matrix move in new and exciting ways thanks to the lack of limitations in the computer universe. This film offers him a similar opportunity, where the impossible is taken almost for granted. The fight scenes are impeccably designed and often very creative. My only complaint is that more of them weren't set in daylight to make them easier to perceive. In stark contrast to the norm, the sound design is not excessive during most of the movie. Punches only lightly landed are not accompanied by thunderous noise. Some sequences don't even have a score, giving them a new kind of focus.

Sitting, Thinking

For all its bravura set pieces, beautiful scenery, and good acting, Crouching Tiger is not as perfect as the hype suggests. I was disappointed that the characters looked so much like they were on wires. I can accept characters leaping with immense strength, but I'm disappointed by seeing them float past rooftops as though they needn't touch them at all. Either they can fly or they can't. Whatever the magical physics required by the story, I wanted something a little less obviously implemented. Incidentally, the credits list almost as many wire removers as stunt people!

Consumer Note

The title of the movie is a reference to the Mandarin names of Jen and Lo. As a result, the choice of English title for the film is somewhat confusing. The English subtitles refer to Jen as a dragon once, but make no mention of tigers. No creatures of either type inhabit the film.

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Copyright 2001 by Scott Ventura. All rights reserved.