Movie Review

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon a.k.a. “El tigre y el dragón,” “O Tigre E o Dragão,” “Tigre et dragon,” “Green Destiny,” “Hiipivä tiikeri, piilotettu lohikäärme,” “Im Reich der Tiger und Drachen,” “Kaplan ve ejderha,” “La tigre e il dragone,” “Na'mer, Dra'kon,” “Ngo foo chong lung,” “Prezeci tiger, skriti zmaj,” “Przyczajony tygrys, ukryty smok,” “Snikende tiger, skjult drage,” “Tiger & Dragon,” “Tiger på spring, drage i skjul,” “Tigre i drac,” “Tigre y dragón,” “Tigris és sárkány,” “Tiiger ja draakon,” “Tygr a drak,” “Wa ho jang ryong,” “Wo hu cang long,” “йПЮДСЫХИЯЪ РХЦП, ГЮРЮХБЬХИЯЪ ДПЮЙНМ”

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for martial arts violence and some sexuality

Reviewed by: Nightingale Ngo
CONTRIBUTOR

Average
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens Adults
Genre:
Foreign Romance Martial Arts Drama
Length:
2 hr.
Year of Release:
2000
USA Release:
December 8, 2000 (limited)
December 22, 2000 (wide)
Copyright, Sony Pictures Classics click photos to ENLARGE Zhang Zi-Yi and Chang Chen in “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” Chow Yun Fat in “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” Michelle Yeoh in “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”
Relevant Issues
Zhang Zi-Yi in “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”

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Featuring: Yun-Fat Chow (Master Li Mu Bai), Ziyi Zhang (Zhang Ziyi—Jiao Long), Michelle Yeoh (Yu Shu Lien), Chen Chang (Lo 'Dark Cloud'/Luo Xiao Hu), Sihung Lung, Cheng Pei-Pei, Fa Zeng Li, Xian Gao, Yan Hai, De Ming Wang, Li Li, Su Ying Huang, Jin Ting Zhang, Rei Yang, Kai Li, Jian Hua Feng, Zhen Xi Du, Cheng Lin Xu, Feng Lin, Wen Sheng Wang, Dong Song, Zhong Xuan Ma, Bao Cheng Li, Yong De Yang, Shao Jun Zhang, Ning Ma, Jian Min Zhu, Chang Cheng Don, Yi Shih, Bin Chen, Sao Chen Chang
Director: Ang Lee
Producer: Asia Union Film & Entertainment Ltd., China Film Co-Production Corporation, Columbia Pictures Film Production Asia, EDKO Film, Good Machine, Sony Pictures Classics, United China Vision, Zoom Hunt International Productions Company Ltd., James Schamus, David Linde, Ang Lee, Bill Kong, Li-Kong Hsu
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics

Breathtaking is the only word to describe “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.”

Famed warrior Li Mu Bai (Yun-Fat Chow) plans to retire and give his sword, Green Destiny as a gift. However, his sword gets stolen, he has one last fight as he plans to avenge his master’s death. Yu Shu Lien (Michelle Yeoh) is a longtime friend and, while they have feelings for each other, they are unable to admit them. Meanwhile, the governor’s daughter, Jen (Ziyi Zhang) is about to be wed in an arranged marriage. However, she has plans of her own and would rather be with Lo (Chen Chang), who lives in the desert and makes a living by stealing from the wealthy.

Director Ang Lee reaches both the Asian audience, with films like “Eat Drink Man Woman”, and the American audience with “Sense and Sensibility”. “Crouching Tiger” shows the diversity of films that he is capable of making. Lee has said he grew up watching many martial arts films, and dreamed of one day making one. Well, he has, and it is amazing in every aspect. He brings beauty and artistry to the screen. The landscapes are vast and majestic, from the bamboo trees to the grandeur of the desert.

Of the three principal actors, only Yeoh had any prior experience in extensive fighting sequences. However, all the actors underwent extensive rehearsals for the film and the result is artistic, flawless fighting sequences. The characters not only fight each other, but also fly over rooftops and fight on treetops. There is much more than fighting in this film, and the actors each convey depth to their characters by bringing intensity and vulnerability. it’s simply amazing to see a young actress like Zhang holding her own in the presence of veteran actors Chow and Yeoh.

The film has no bad language, however, parents do need to be cautious of the violence, since this film focuses on fighting. There are a few instances of blood—a massive throwing blade impaled into a policeman’s skull, plus a few other quick minor bloody scenes. Two love scenes are filmed with no nudity, but there is some movement and even in the absence of nudity the sequence is somewhat erotic. Another scene shows a drugged Jen in a wet white shirt, revealing her breasts. Disrespect is a key theme as Jen defies her parents' wishes of an arranged marriage. The spiritual side to the film is obviously Eastern, showing characters talking about meditating and in one scene showing Shu Lien observing Buddhist rituals.

Yes, the film is in Mandarin Chinese, and is therefore subtitled, but the subtitles in no way take away from the film. Mix the fighting sequences, splendid background to a great soundtrack featuring cellist Yo Yo Ma, and you have a masterpiece. One of the best films of 2000? Definitely.


Viewer Comments
I see another reviewer has charged “disrespect” when a female character in the film defies her parents' plans for her to marry. Presumably the “disrespect” being spoken of refers to the disrespect being shown by the parents themselves. They make a decision that holds far-reaching implications for their adult daughter in total disregard of her wishes in the matter; the marriage is political. Anyone who believes the Golden Rule—that we should do for others what we would have others do for us—will find the parents' approach impossible to endorse. The daughter’s defiance represents a foreseeable consequence for which the parents bear a share of responsibility. Rebellion is a natural response to tyranny.
My Ratings: [Good / 4½]
—Ryan Ross, age 40
I don’t recall having this much fun at the movies, or anywhere else for that matter, in years. I was at the edge of my seat, leaning forward, the entire time. The martial arts scenes were breathtakingly exquisite. However, I now write with respect to the love-scenes. I found them intensely beautiful. At the same time, all my accompanying, very virtuous friends, who are all young men, in the prime of their youth, yet struggling to maintain their chastity, averted their gazes. They all objected to the love-scenes as tarnishing an otherwise beautiful film. After hearing my friend’s objections, I couldn’t but find them to be in the right. I suspect that my own appreciation of the scenes has to do with my familiarity with intimacy as a married-man, but simultaneously having to do with a callousness, and hardness of heart on my part, that accompanies the inexorable desensitization one undergoes living in a culture that is drowning in its vices, sexuality chief amongst them… Despite that there may be little or no nudity, what is portrayed however, is done so beautifully, so artfully, that it heightens the allure of premarital relations in such a way that a more graphic portrayal never could. I don’t mean to be indelicate here, but I have to concede, that those few scenes were of an intensely erotic nature…
My Ratings: [Average / 5]
—Bill, age 23, non-Christian
This film was nothing short of amazing! I was in absolute awe because of the simply magnificent effects used. All of the actors were wonderful. The fight scenes were great. However, they somewhat overshadowed the plot. But that’s okay. I loved seeing characters running from rooftop to rooftop, just gliding along. And I loved the sword fight in the trees. The only reason I didn’t give this a five on Movie making is because of the ending. It isn’t bad, don’t get me wrong, but there could’ve been a lot more. It seemed like the writer got in a hurry at the end, I don’t know. Maybe they cut it down when they adapted it from the novel. In any case, this is a fantastic movie. And for those who don’t like to have to read when they watch a movie, #1. Shame on you. #2. There is so much action you just won’t care.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 4½]
—Jason Eaken, age 17
I was totally disappointed in this movie. It may be fine for secular people who don’t care what their kids see, but for Christians I have much higher expectations. It was an eye opener to see what the public views as “OK”. I would have rather heard profanities than to have sat through the sex scenes (which leave no room for imagination) they were VERY explicit in my opinion. So what if there is no nudity—does that mean it’s ok to tell our kids go have sex, just don’t let anything show? It had so much possibility if they had put the morals in the right places. The only good in this film is the mercy shown a couple of times by the lead characters when they don’t kill someone who deserved it. I would NOT recommend this movie from the viewpoint of a mother of teenagers—although I have to say that my kids thought it was good but my husband agrees with my view.
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive / 4]
—Tami and James, age 41
The movie seemed to take a feminist approach that women are the stronger species. The ending was very strange and left many of us viewers asking, “Huh?” I wish I had left feeling enlightened, but instead, I felt I had wasted 2 hours.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 3]
—An Asian American
This is without a doubt THE BEST FILM OF THE YEAR!! It blends a mixture of action, adventure, amazing landscapes and a light love story to make it a crowd-pleaser for everyone! You forget the subtitles about five minutes into the movie and are drawn in by Ang Lee’s fascinating film.
—Anon, teen
I agree with your review, except for the defiance against the parent. I think I would defy my parents if they put me up to an arranged marriage to someone I did not know…
My Ratings: [Good / 4½]
—Casualsuede
As an Asian American, I applaud Ang Lee for his efforts on making this movie. Totally action packed and filled with excitement, he unravels an epic story before our eyes. This is a fantasy… so a lot of the special effects are purely fantastical because of that. There are a few love scenes, fighting, and defiance of a daughter to her parents. From a Christian standpoint, reaching “enlightenment” is not something that we think about, but for many of my ancestors it was a way of life. This is a good conversational started for sharing the Gospel though:0) I give this movie two thumbs up!
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 5]
—Jammin for Him
I recommend this movie highly due to the story plot and quality of film. There is no cussing or sexual puns, and everyone is decently dressed. There is only one part in concern. A sex scene that is semigraphic. Other than that, you walk out of the theater satisfied.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 4½]
—Christina Valenzuela, age 20
What is crouching in this film is an enticement to accept violence and sex because it has great acting and wonderful cinematography. This enticement is a typical one for Christians, do I accept the patently ungodly issues because my senses were pleased? The fighting is exactly the type of kung-fu type action small children love to imitate and view as a legitimate way to handle conflict. And the scene of a man with a knife in his skull is purely for shock value. Why do we feel it’s OK if there isn’t “a lot” of gore and violence? The sexual scene is unnecessary and I agree w/ other viewers, do you really want to deliver the message to children it’s OK to have or exhibit sexuality as long as you don’t show anything? I would not recommend this film and I say that with regret because the acting and cinematography are excellent.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 5]
—Bob MacLean, age 51
Thin story. Too much emphasis on fighting scenes. Felt the movie was a waste of time. Definitely not the best pix of the year! 13 Days, Gladiator, and Proof of Life were much better.
My Ratings: [Average / 3½]
—Age 64
In my opinion the best movie I’ve ever seen! Also an example that you can make excellent action without any explosions. However, the fantastic storyline, the terrific presented changing relationship between the characters, the symbolism and the use of metaphors and the teachings one can find in this film are incomparable to those of the western film industry. It is a pity that most people now, as then in the movies apparently did not understand the movie. Especially may here be mentioned the end which crowns the movie (provided that you have understood it) I believe that there are several more details which I did not understand in this film or to which I did not pay attention. I think the problem with the comprehension can be explained by the different cultures. In this case eastern teachings play a big role, which seem to be superior to western teachings.
My Ratings: [Excellent / 5]
—Tobias, Age 19
I don’t think I was “offended” by this film. Yes, it was violent and contained Buddhist world-views that oppose the Truth. But, that’s part of the story. I did get lost in the film. The cinematography and music was lush and almost hypnotic! The characters had depth and showed great dignity. The fight scenes were exhilarating combined with the drumming soundtrack. I did detect an egalitarian message regarding men and women’s physical strength. But it did show the effects of youthful indiscretions and zeal for the wild life which eventually led to disaster. The story ended tragically, but my wife and I left the theatre strangely happy that we just saw a film that had plenty of satisfying ingredients.
My Ratings: [Average / 5]
—Steve Skibbie, Age 35
I think I need to coin a new phrase. There is a genre of movies available now that are not “Science Fiction” they are rather “Spiritual Fiction”. “Crouching Tiger, Hidden dragon” is such a film. I rely on the Christian Spotlight on the movies to chose if and when I spend two hours and eight dollars of my life in front of a movie screen. I felt I was misled about this one. What was so “good” about this movie? Yes, the cinematography was excellent, but the spiritual fantasy in it was so far fetched that at best it was a waste of time, and at worst I was drawn into a world of lie and abomination. Outside of the spectacular (and quite unrealistic) martial arts scenes, this was little more than a rehash of every other good vs. evil plot, devoid of any other moral character, complete with the typical Hollywood assortment of pre-marital sex, infidelity, and rewarding bad behavior.
My Ratings: [Average / 3]
—Dale Lear, Age 49
This movie looked to be surely the best I had seen all year. I am fascinated with foreign lands, martial arts and just the roles of people in general in other countries. However, despite this, and the fact I love Chow’s acting, this movie was horrible. It started off being excellent, despite the fact it was super predictable. Then something happened, the movie fell off the horse, and never got back on. Instead of focusing on the only two decent characters in the movie, it focused on the worst, most disrespectful little girl in human kind imaginable. She was rude, unappreciative, and where you felt bad that she was being married off against her will, you, by the end of the movie, wished they had married her off just to focus on the only real plot of the movie, the older couple. The younger couples love story was lame, and frankly the love scene disgusted me. This movie was a little too abusive to the rubberband stunts and was probably the worst I had seen ever with martial arts. The sad thing, is, it had so much potential. This film includes meditation, enlightenment, a man masturbating a woman, immoral, unbiblical behavior, and the worst written good script gone bad ever. Wait for the dollar movies if you are to see it, and pray the writer learns from his mistakes. DO NOT ALLOW CHILDREN TO SEE IT.
My Ratings: [Average / 2]
—Heather Rackler, Age 21
Reading the other reviews, and being a Christian and mother of three, I am actually very surprised at some of the comments made about the sex scenes and even some of the violence. Although I am young in age many find me to be old in thought and practice. That in mind, I found it to be very well done and with communication I do believe a teenager could view this movie without taking away the message that it is okay to have sex or commit crimes. Overall, I left this movie with a sense of peace and a feeling that all who participated in this movie can step away and be proud of what they contributed!
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 5]
—Kelly, Age 24