Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is the latest in the strongly developing canon of the eclectic director, Ang Lee. After producing an American Civil War movie, and dabbling in the very English province of Jane Austin, Ang Lee returns somewhat to his childhood roots and the very Far Eastern genre of the Kung-Fu action adventure.
And a cracking job he makes of it, too. The film begins in a rich western province of a China set somewhere in the dim and glamorous past of kings and warriors. A young woman is about to be married, a warrior is thinking of retiring, and a Jade Fox lurks in the shadows, bitterness in her heart… It is a tale of two love stories and the struggle for possession of a rather interesting sword - the 'Green Destiny'. One of the stories is that old classic; girl meets bandit, girl whups bandit's arse over a theft of a comb, girl and bandit fall in love, but girl obliged to go back to aristocratic parents. As a balance to this highly emotional state there is the deeply passionate but denied love between the more mature couple Chow Yun-Fat (a sort of fighting philosopher) and Michelle Yeoh (security specialist - both of them from the honourable end of a mysterious warrior underworld). The stories and destinies of the four - especially the two women and Yun-Fat - intertwine in principles of honour, martial arts, social obligations and revenge.
The real gems of the film, apart from glorious sets and costumes, are the rapid-fire bursts of some of the most jaw-droppingly spectacular stunt work and fight scenes, certainly that I've seen in a long while. Move over The Matrix -these guys are for real! The combatants pursue each other on water, in tree-tops, up and down and around walls and roofs - the key being a type of martial art-meditation which enables someone to effectively 'fly' by lightly bouncing off a surface - even one as insubstantial as the surface of a lake! Ang Lee really worked his cast hard on this one, and the effort shows - the moves are blinding and incredible to see, and to add an extra touch of immediacy, Lee took his cameras right into the thick of the fights, so that instead of being separate viewers, the audience is pulled right into the action.
A jewel of a film - exciting, moving, thrilling and lush. Come see!
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