October 17, 2016


Starring Chow Yun-fat, Michelle Yeoh, Zhang Ziyi, Chang Chen, Cheng Pei-pei. Directed by Ang Lee. (2000, 120 min).

16 years later, we’re still seeing the influence of Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Not only was it the first foreign language film to become a bonafide blockbuster in America, it almost single-handedly changed the way martial arts films are made, as well as the general consensus that the genre is nothing but blood and bone cracking.

I’ve reviewed quite a number of 21st Century Asian action films on this site over the years, and stylistically, nearly all of them owe no small debt to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. So do a lot of American ones, for that matter. Its tethered stunts and aerial fights might not have aged all that well, but along with The Matrix, director Ang Lee and his crafty crew of choreographers deserve most of the credit for your modern action hero’s ability to defy gravity. More significantly, the still-amazing swordplay here has yet to be equaled; the semi-climactic dual between Yu Shu (Michelle Yeoh) and Jen Yu (Zhang Ziyi) is a technical masterpiece, arguably the greatest thing Lee ever shot.


Of course, the film isn’t all about action. In fact, if you haven’t seen it in awhile, you might be surprised to suddenly realize how little there actually is. I had forgotten all about its rather slow and meandering first act. However, Lee’s attention to his characters keeps things interesting once we get to know them and the plot begins to unfold (though the lengthy flashbacks with Jen Yu & Lo are still boring). Yoah notwithstanding, Lee was also smart in casting actors not typically associated with martial arts action, making their characters seem more like real people than fighting machines.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon has been released on DVD and Blu-Ray before, but fans still may be interested in this disc because, in addition to previously released extras, it contains a substantial amount of new or never-before-seen bonus features, including lengthy retrospective interviews and a making-of documentary.

FEATURETTES: “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: A Retrospective” (3 new individual interviews with director Ang Lee, editor Tim Squyres and co-screenwriter James Schamus); “The Making of Crouching Tiger: Hidden Dragon”; “Conversation with Michelle Yeoh”.
Audio Commentaries by Lee & Schamus and Cinematographer Peter Pau.
Deleted Scenes.
Music Video: “A Love Before Time” (English and Mandarin versions).
Theatrical Trailer
Digital Copy

No comments: