Title: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Release Date: 7 July 2000
Director: Ang Lee
Production Company: Columbia Pictures Film Production Asia | Good Machine International | Edko Films | Zoom Hunt Productions | China Film Co-Production Corp. | Asian Union Film & Entertainment Ltd.
Summary/Review: I last watched Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon when it was released in US theaters 21 years ago and it turns out I remembered very little of the movie. The one thing that stuck with me was the duel fought on the tops of a forest of bamboo which remains an awe-inspiring image in this rewatch.
The film centers on Jen Yu (Zhang Ziyi), the daughter of a governor who is promised in marriage but yearns for a life free to determine on her own terms. She learns Wudang skills from a bandit named Jade Fox (Cheng Pei-pei) who is disguised as her governess and steals a famed sword named Green Destiny from the renowned swordsman Li Mu Bai (Chow Yun-fat). Mu Bai and his friend Yu Shu Lien (Michelle Yeoh) investigate the theft of the sword and attempt to aid Jen who resists any interference.
The movie features several wuxia fight setpieces, and in addition to being amazing action sequences also are all rooted in relationships and plot points. I’m impressed at how central women are in almost all the roles of this film especially since in just the last decade it’s been “controversial” for women to be centered in Hollywood action films. I also was really touched by the unspoken romance between Mu Bai and Shu Lien which is paid off in the film’s denouement. Chow and Yeoh are really terrific actors and express a lot of emotion with very little external display.