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Tom Hagen     review by Luca Brasi                   Full Review List

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

Right, for my first little review of a film I decided to share my opinion of Ang Lee's epic Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon since I'm sure that any other film that would be more mainstream is already earmarked for praise and jeers from Tom, Osgood or PJ. If you haven't heard of this film, you will. It's one of those critical darlings, an Oscar favourite, on a parallel with those new ones like "Traffic" or "Cast Away". Well seldom have I shared the critical view with those journalists. Hey, first time for everything, because this film is SPECTACULAR. Some might be turned off by the sweeping story, the breathtaking visuals and the distracting subtitles... but hey, it's got GREAT fight scenes.

The obligatory plot summary:
In turn of last century China, Li Mu Bai (Chow Yun-Fat) returns to his home after years of meditation, a venture to absolve himself of his legendary life as the greatest warrior in all of China. In an effort to forget his past and try to lead a new life, he gives his friend Shu Lien (Michelle Yeoh) the sword of Green Destiny (which he used throughout his warrior days) to give to his old friend in Beijing, Sir Te. It is at Sir Te's that Shu Lien meets Jen Yu (Zhang ZiYi), the daughter of the governor. Since Shu Lien's past is also filled with legendary war stories, the young Jen is fascinated with the image of the roaming warrior, partly due to her growing up hearing exaggerated stories about Li Mu Bai and Shu Lien, and partly because of her planned marriage. However, all is not what it seems, and when the sword is stolen, the story twists and turns as unstoppable enemies, past lovers and suppressed feelings all work against the main characters. Naturally I wouldn't want to give too much away since the story is so entertaining once it gets started. What I just summarized is only the first fifteen minutes. And then the fight scenes start...

Well, what can I say? If all you liked about "The Matrix" or "Charlie's Angels" were the fight scenes, then watch the masters go to work! This film has five-to-ten minute two-person battles with impossible jumps, graceful action and excellent, EXCELLENT fighting. But don't see this just for the masterstroke fight scenes; this movie is also a beautiful love story. While Jen yearns for her true love in the face of a life as either a stationary wife or a travelling warrior, Shu feels pain about never being able to show how much she loves her intended.

Okay, if I've lost your attention by now, I'll remind you it's got great fight scenes.

Chow Yun-Fat (Who knew he'd be better with one green sword than two handguns? If you don't know what I'm on about, see his Hong Kong work) is brilliant, even if he's not the main player in this film. Michell Yeoh and Zhang ZiYi are fantastic as the central characters (the title corresponds to them in the underlying theme of the film), always at odds with each other when all they want to be is allies.

Oh, I'm sorry, I went into the theme again. Did I mention the great fight scenes?

To sum all that up, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is a wonderful film for any fan of foreign, action or movies in general. See it with anyone, because it's got something for EVERYone. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; the best film I've ever read.

(And if you don't like subtitles, it's got great fight... okay I'll shut up.)

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