Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"

(Wo hu zang long)

This movie kicks ass, both literally and figuratively. Ang Lee delivers in this movie with a superb cast, wonderful story, and fabulous action. The fight scenes are absolutely amazing. The story centers around three formidable women whose destinies become intertwined in China during the Qing dynasty. Yu Shu Lien (Michelle Yeoh) is a female itinerant warrior who considers settling down after a life of adventures. However, she must go on one last mission, recover the Green Destiny, the prized sword of Li Mu Bai (Chow Yun-Fat) who is the legendary martial arts master of his time and the object of Shu Lien's hidden affections. The sword was stolen by an apprentice of Jade Fox (Cheng Pei-pei), the former concubine of Mu Bai's master, who Jade Fox murdered because he would not train her.

While searching for the sword, Shu Lien meets Jen Yu (Zhang Ziyi), the daughter of a governor, who despite her proper upbringing as a lady is harboring several secrets, among them a desire to reunite with her desert-dwelling lover, Lo (Chang Chen), a tough brigand. Jen seems fascinated with the life of a woman warrior, but her attempt at forging a friendship with Shu Lien is discouraged by her governess who seems to exhibit polite disdain for Shu Lien.

Now, the plot is good, but the action scenes are excellent! Yuen Wo-Ping choreographed the scenes (the same guy who did the surreal scenes of "The Matrix") and this time Yuen outdid himself. There is flying over rooftops, into trees, and fights on galloping horses. Even though you know that the flying is not real, it is still breathtaking to watch nonetheless. "Crouching Tiger" does not play out like those cheesy Saturday afternoon kung-fu movies on UPN, these action scenes are mind-blowing particularly the intense fight sequence between Jen and Shu Lien towards the end of the movie. In addition to being well written and choreographed, the movie was well cast. Chow Yun-Fat does a wonderful job portraying Li Mu Bai, and Michelle Yeoh complements him perfectly. Zhang Ziyi is a newcomer and does a brilliant job as the reluctantly betrothed Jen. Chang Chen made a fitting handsome rogue. Cheng Pei-pei is a veteran martial arts movie actress who brings her experience to the film.

I have heard many opinions concerning the movie's ending. My personal opinion was that it was left open for the viewer to decide and like most foreign films, did not end happily ever after. However, it is not a disappointing ending, and would probably be better understood upon reading the books on which the movie was based. This was a splendidly done movie, from the beautiful costumes to the settings. You get to see the gorgeous terrain of China; the deserts, the mountains, and the grand Forbidden City. Although the women in this film are the centerpieces, this is by no means a 'chick flick'. It is a story about love, honor, and hidden identities and secrets.

"Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" is entirely in Mandarin Chinese, with English subtitles, which are succinct and do not present a distraction from the visuals.

See this movie!

Billz Movie Worthiness Scale: A

Billz Movie Worthiness Scale Values:

A = movie tickets and popcorn for 2 (about $40)
B = buy the DVD when it comes out ($25)
C = rent it
D = wait for it to be on cable/pay TV
E = wait for it to be on regular TV

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