Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)
Reviewed by: Gaijin84 on 2005-07-27
Summary: An absolute classic...
Ang Lee's latest film, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is an outstanding movie that follows the trail of a legendary jade sword, the Green Destiny, and the key people it influences and ultimately destroys. Chow Yun-Fat plays Li Mu Bai, a retired master that is looking simply to retire to his mountain home and live in peace. He sends one of his dearest friends, Yu Shu Lien (Michelle Yoeh), to deliver his sword (the Green Destiny) to his teacher, signifying his retirement. Unfortunately, the sword is stolen by a bandit during the night and Shu Lien, feeling responsible for its disappearance, must figure out who is behind the theft. Staying in the house at the same time is a princess (Zhang Zi Yi), who is being sent into marriage but longs for the life of a warrior. All indications start to point toward her being the thief, and Mu Bai becomes suspicious that Jade Fox, his long time enemy and murderer of his master, is somehow manipulating the situation from the shadows. Li Mu Bai decides to embark on one last mission with the help of Shu Lien: recover the Green Destiny sword, defeat Jade Fox and convince the thief to study under him and learn the true ways of a warrior.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon manages to combine every element of a traditional martial arts movie with the acting, emotion and poise of the best dramas that Hollywood is able to produce. The story, although somewhat complicated, manages to draw the viewer into the multi-layered sub-plots and make them care about the fate of the characters. Michelle Yeoh and Chow Yun-Fat are riveting as two martial arts masters that, although having studied together and been friends for years, do not reveal their love for each other until it is too late. Their scenes together are some of the most emotional in the movie, and their chemistry plays to that emotion. Zhang Zi Yi is also fabulous as Princess Jen Yu, being able to bridge the full range of emotions almost effortlessly - from her feigned naivety as the princess, to her love of Chen Chang, to her hardened warrior exterior in her numerous battles. In addition to a great story and top rate acting, the fight scenes are probably some of the best choreographed to date. Yuen Woo Ping again shows why he is the master of capturing the fluidity and grace of martial arts with a multitude of outstanding fight sequences that leave you shaking your head in wonder. Although there is a great deal of wire work, it adds to the almost dance-like quality of the scenes. An especially incredible sequence pits Michelle Yeoh against Zhang Zi Yi in Yeoh's dojo. Michelle uses every weapon available to her in her fight, each succumbing to the Green Destiny sword. The scene seems to play as an exhibition for Yeoh and the variety of styles displayed with each weapon, making it completely exhilarating to watch. If you have never watched a martial arts film, you may be spoiled by this one. It puts almost every element of movie making together perfectly, becoming not only a great martial arts movie, but a wonderful movie in any genre.
Reviewer Score: 10