"Crouching Tiger," burning bright
"Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" is the rare foreign film that can capture the imagination of American moviegoers, with thrilling kung-fu sequences, a good old-fashioned Western-style plot and charismatic performances.
By DAVID N. BUTTERWORTH
So why is "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" (Wo Hu Zang Long) still playing to sold-out audiences several weeks after its release, and what gives this
film, in Mandarin with English subtitles, any right to be playing at the suburban multiplexes anyway?
Is it because it's a terrific action picture, featuring
incredible fight sequences choreographed with an artistry heretofore unseen in this country? Is it because it's an enchanting romance the smoldering,
unspoken love of Li Mu Bai and Shu Lien (played by familiar faces Chow Yun-Fat and Michelle Yeoh) and the burning desert love of Jen and Lo (the
not-so-familiar Zhang Ziyi and Chang Chen), given extra intensity by Tan Dun's intimate score (cello solos courtesy of Yo-Yo Ma)? Is it because these central
figures are some of the strongest characters we're seen in years?
|CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON|
|Original title: 臥虎藏龍.|
Directed by: Ang Lee.
Written by: Hui-Ling Wang, James Schamus, Kuo Jung Tsai.
Adapted from the novel by: Du Lu Wang.
Cast: Chow Yun-Fat, Michelle Yeoh, Zhang Ziyi, Chen Chang.
Cinematography: Peter Pau.
In Mandarin with English subtitles.
Related links: Official site | All of David N. Butterworth's reviews at Rotten Tomatoes
Or is it, when you come right down to it, an honest-to-goodness B-movie, a good
old-fashioned Western with good guys and bad guys (and good girls and bad girls) duking it out amid splendid, widescreen vistas that would make John
Ford proud? "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" is all of these, a simple tale majestically told: a legendary warrior; a stolen jade sword; a mysterious
masked assassin; a Jade Fox.|
It's a Fantasy / Action / Adventure / Drama / Romance (according to some online sources). It's got martial artists, sword fights,
bamboo forests, deserts, flashbacks, poison, and revenge. It's got secret identities, teacher-student relationships, and unrequited love. There are
tragedies, twists, flying bandits, proteges, poison darts even "wire-fu"! And, of course, China, looking lovelier than ever.
Director Ang Lee ("The Ice Storm") brings all of these disparate elements together with accomplished flair and, even more importantly, an innate sense and sensibility that, when all's well and done, causes you to exit the theater feeling mesmerized and moved, like something magical just revealed itself to you.
|JANUARY 20, 2001|
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