Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)
Reviewed by: Arshadnm6 on 2005-04-10
Summary: Average Movie with Average Expectations and Below Average Result......
Based on the book by Wang Du-Lu, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon is the epic fantasy retelling of a story based on two sets of lovers as one struggles with the demands of living with the harsh principles of the martial arts world whereas the other follows a younger and more dynamic feel. Li Mu-Bai (Chow Yun-Fat) and Yu Shu-Lien (Michelle Yeoh) are two veteran martial artists whose plans for retirement are interrupted by the theft of Li Mu-Bai’s prize possession, the Green Destiny sword during its handover to another high dignitary. The other lovers include Jen Yu (Zhang Ziyi), a beautiful and noble-mannered young girl who has a hidden identity and Lo (Chang Chan) the compassionate caravan bandit residing in the deserts who is known as ‘Dark Cloud’. While Li Mu-Bai and Yu Shu-Lien have grown weary of the hindrances of the Jiang Hu underworld to their secret feelings for each other, Jen Yu desires it deeply, as she has been raised by Jade Fox (Cheng Pei-Pei), a vicious kung fu mistress and killer of Li Mu-Bai’s Wudan master. The movie is based on whether the talented Jen Yu will remain under the control of evil Jade Fox’s old feud with the Wudan master or join Li Mu-Bai?

This mainland chinese and mandarin spoken movie has great visual sceneries and is based in different locations including a town, deserts, mountains, hills and forests. This high-budget production gained unnecessary popularity for its average-styled martial arts. Moreover, the blend of emotions in this drama include obvious vibes of doomed love carried throughout the entirety of the movie and touches of romance and martial arts mixed in with some double-crossings and twists where no actor is really who they appear to be – hence the name of the movie, ‘Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon’ (especially in the sense of Zhang Ziyi being a hidden thief throughout the movie and disguised as a man when she becomes embroiled in a restaurant brawl). The plot is very basic and has very few subplots. There is no reason behind why this movie was so popular and made high box office takings when compared to other far superior movies (in both the martial arts and dramatic sense) like ‘Moon Warriors’ being around before its time.

Both Ang Lee and Zhang Ziyi have been constantly marketed as the next big things since the day they stepped foot into the movie industry where her roles always appear to include a rebellious young girl and this feature is no exception. Furthermore, Chow Yun Fat has no experience of martial arts and should not have been offered the role since his lack of practice in this area shows (i.e. a slow-motion and overdone wire-worked fight in the forest/mountains with Zhang Ziyi whose action carries no sense of force of impact due to her main background in theatrical displays) and leaves audiences begging for more from both of them. Also, the last fight scene occurs between Zhang Ziyi and Michelle Yeoh (her ability in this sense is wasted throughout the move with silly wirework) in a Wudan Temple with a good assortment of weapons, which is overly long and placed incorrectly in the movie (should have been further towards the end) and suffers the fate of other Hollywood disasters such as Kevin Costner’s ‘Waterworld’. Surprisingly, Jet Li turned down the role for acting as Li Mu-Bai in this movie.

Overall, this is a reasonable movie with not much to offer regardless of international acclaim and seems to be an introduction to the limelight for all of the main actors (all of them being attracted to come and act in Hollywood, where Chow Yun Fat is given a chance to improve his portfolio in marital arts movies starring roles).

Overall Rating: 5.3/10
Reviewer Score: 5