I would rather be a ghost drifting by your side as a condemned soul than enter heaven without you. Because of your love, I will never be a lonely spirit
Ang Lee’s martial-arts drama “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” (henceforth CTHD) is a breath-taking fairy tale of life-altering quest, struggle between honor and lust for power, generation of warriors forging alliances and enmities in a timeless theme into the genre for the new millennium and been the worldwide cinematic phenomenon in 2000-01. This was made with a relatively modest budget of $15 million and it earned over $200 million worldwide outperforming all other Chinese language films and propelling the jaded critics at the Cannes film festival into a standing ovation.
This film achieved astonishing success all over the world. CTHD made a rare transition out of the art-houses and into the multiplexes, and in doing so it become the most commercially successful foreign language film in US history and the first Chinese-language film to find a mass American audience. Critically and popularly acclaimed went to get nominated for ten Academy awards and the first Asian film for best picture
Part of the films significance derives from the way it displays in chorus localizing and globalizing penchants of mass culture in our contemporary movement. The film’s potency in its visual and narrative content are very well embraced as doggedly Chinese local. This movie based on a famous wushu novel, penned during pre WWII by Wang Du Lu. The title comes from a Chinese precept about walloping strength from the world. The story centers on a 400-year-old sword called Green Destiny, set in the times of Jiang hu underworld of bandits and heroes during the Qing dynasty (1644 –1911)
In the early 19th century, martial-arts conjurer Li Mu Bai (Chow Yun-fat) is an aging warrior, a Jedi-like breed, la samurai, plans to retire, preserves a magic sword, a legendary 400-year-old blade known as Green Destiny. In his personal dispute and melancholic transition, he entrusts his magic sword, the Green Destiny, to his confidant Shulien (Michelle Yeoh), a friend and warrior. Though ardent on avenging the death of his late master, who was killed by the witchlike Jade Fox (Cheng Pei-pei), Li now seems more inclined to peace and introspective life. Besides in his true subdual for his love towards a mutual and longtime friend in Shulien
Transporting the sword to Beijing at Sir Te’s estate, Shulien meets Jen (Zhang Ziyi), a petite, headstrong Governor’s daughter who is unhappy over being forced into an arranged marriage, which only increases the envy she feels over the freewheeling lifestyle of Shulien. One evening, a masked thief sneaks into Sir Te’s estate and steals the sword. Li Mu Bai and Shulien trace the theft to Governor’s compound and learn that Jade Fox has been posing as Jen’s governess for many years.
Mu Bai makes the acquaintance of Inspector Tsai (Wang Deming), a police investigator from the provinces, and his daughter May (Li Li), who have come to Beijing in pursuit of Fox. Fox challenges the pair and Sir Te’s servant Master Bo (Gao Xi’an) to a showdown that night. Following a prolonged battle, the group is on the verge of defeat when Mu Bai reaches the spot and outwits Fox. Before Mu Bai can kill Fox, the masked thief reappears and partners with Fox to fight. Fox resumes the fight and kills Tsai before fleeing with the thief (who is discovered to be Fox’s protegee, Jen). After seeing Jen fight Mu Bai, Fox realizes Jen had been secretly studying the Wudang manual and has surpassed her in belligerent skills.
That night, a desert bandit named Lo (Chang Chen) breaks into Jen’s bedroom and asks her to leave with him. The flashback reveals in one of the travels when Governor and his family to the western deserts, the bandits raid Jen’s caravan stealing her comb and other belonging. In an aberrant chase Jen follows Lo to get her comb back, subsequently the love bosom between the young Jen and Lo into a passionate love.
Lo comes back to Beijing to persuade his love and not before his word earlier to Jen about the legends of the man who jumped off a cliff to make his wishes come true and certain to be alive because of his heart being pure. Jen refuses and Lo however sways to join him on the day of her wedding. Closely, Shulien and Mu Bai convince Lo to wait for Jen at Mount Wudang, which allows Jen run away on the wedding night and in disguise of male clothing, she is confronted at an inn by a large group of combatants, armed with the Green Destiny and her own superior combat skills beat everyone. Followed Shulien comes to inform Jen of Lo waiting for her at Mount Wudang, the angry dispute engage as Shu notices Jen with Green Destiny.
The fight erupts between the two contentious women. The thrilling fight staged liked an elaborate ballet, the night scene is skillfully designed to only gradually reveal the women’s abilities and at first they traverse walls and roofs with a hop, skip and a jump, and then stagger off surfaces. Jen exercise the Green Destiny, destroys each weapon that Shulien brandishes. The show-off propel to the new high through the air like spring and flexible until Jen loses to a broken sword held at her neck and Shulien shows sympathy dropping the sword and thus Jen reflex her anger hurt Shulien’s arm.
Mu Bai arrives and tracks Jen into the forest, causing a fight as he salvages the possession of the Green Destiny from Jen and throws the sword over a waterfall. Jen dives in chase into adjoining river to retrieve the sword and is then rescued by Fox. Fox puts Jen into a dazed sleep and places her in a cavern. Mu Bai and Shulien discover her there. Fox swiftly returns and bouts the others with poisoned darts. Mu Bai blocks the needles with his sword and avenges his master’s death by severely wounding Fox, only to realize that one of the darts hit him in the neck. Fox dies, confessing that her goal had been to kill Jen because she was manic that Jen had hid the secrets of Wudang’s far superior fighting techniques from her and thus Jen exits to gather up an antidote for the poisoned dart
Mu Bai in his pain and virtually to death, confess his fondness and love for Shulien and breathes last in her arms. Jen returns before it’s too late to save Mu. The Green destiny is returned to Sir Te and Jen follows to Mount Wudang to meet Lo. They spend one last night together and the next morning, Lo sights Jen standing on a terrace overlooking the edge of the mountain. She asks him to make a wish and he conforms to be together again and Jen in lull leaps over the side of the mountain.
A life has no remote, gets up and changes itself, which is a very deep-thinking antidote and metaphysical beliefs of ancient Chinese views that Ang Lee is carefully able to inject throughout the film. There are elements into Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, like the martial-arts themselves derive from the philosophical tenets, most famously from the Shaolin Temple during the Qing Dynasty and their three principle philosophical schools that influence the martial arts- Confucianism, with an emphasis on clan and social order; the other one is Buddhism, with an emphasis on compassion and transcendence; and lastly, the Taoism, with an emphasis on the nature and pragmatism to the core.
Gathering the spiritual fable and legends into a wonderful story telling mean CTHD, presents the martial-art with a higher degree of reverence in its standout action sequences. These are eye-popping and marvelously choreographed by Yuen Wo-Ping, who worked for The Matrix. Lee draws upon the work of other filmmakers in laying the touches on CTHD. Homages to both John Ford and Akira Kurosawa are easily identifiable by anyone who has seen the work of either of them
Behold- CTHD is the most beautifully crafted film, an epic by itself, not only reflects a sign of remarkable skill on Ang Lee’s to insert such a thoughtful annotation on the situation of the modern woman. In an instance of Jade Fox as the strong professional women who is perceived as too aggressive, while her equally aggressive male colleagues are spared this reproach- Shulien as the woman who works twice as hard as her male colleagues to reach the same stature, sacrificing her personal happiness for professional success; and Jen as a beautiful, capable teenager trying to set her priorities of career or family. This is an eventual timbre for the contemporary realm, to explore those prejudices.
The movie is a clean escapist and the fun made deeper by Ang Lee’s attention to subtle play of laughter breeze in between romance and adventure. The inclusion of secondary characters, especially in the action sequences Lee makes a natural connect with his viewers considering the life told best as it is. Those conversant with Lee’s earlier movies will no doubt wish he had made something more specialized and less accessible.
Not to miss the cinematographer Peter Pau make CTHD a stunning visual experience, shot in many parts of China the scenery is breathtaking and from the faded shot of ancient Beijing to the fertile splendor of the neighborhood forest to the majesty of Wudun Mountain, the film never ceases to blaze our eyes and seize our responses. The soundtrack of Tan Dun’s gentle and haunting score provides the perfect musical backdrop for the story, and is certain to me is the best silk screen of movie marvel of this millennium
- Directed by Ang Lee
- Produced by Bill Kong; Hsu Li-Kong & Ang Lee
- Screenplay by Wang Hui-Ling; James Schamus & Tsai Kuo Jung
- Based on “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”by Wang Dulu
- Cast: Chow Yun-fat; Michelle Yeoh; Zhang Ziyi & Chang Chen
- Music by Tan Dun
- Cinematography: Peter Pau
- Edited by Tim Squyres
- Production Company: Columbia Pictures Film Production Asia; Good Machine International; Edko Films; Zoom Hunt Productions; China Film Co-Productions Corporation & Asian Union Film & Entertainment
- Distributed by Sony Pictures Classics
- Release dates: July 6, 2000 (Hong Kong)
- Run time of 120 Minutes
- Country: Taiwan; Hong Kong; China & United States
- Language: Chinese & English