Growing up, I watched a hodgepodge of wuxia movies/TV series (flying monkey, snake lady, etc) so I am comfortable to see someone flying on the roof, walking on the wall or fighting on trees. I mean heck what Crouching displayed is only a surface of other peculiar and random things in the Chinese fantasy (look up jiangshi). Even so, I must agree say the movie is not weird, but it have problems.
Based on one of Wang Dulu’s pentalogy novels, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is an action-romance set in the mythical China. The movie focuses on Jen, an aristocrat who is arranged to marry a rich dude to boost her father’s political career. Not keen of the decision, Jen secretly rebel and leads a double life where she is a sword princess at night. While in Beijing, she stole a powerful sword and come tête-à-tête with martial art masters: Li Mu Bai and Yu Shu Lien who, after several high-strung fights, realised her talent and offered her to become their teachers.
Personally, I feel Crouching is a feminist movie (which is great!), since it revolves heavily around Jen’s story. Zhang Ziyi is a remarkable actress with impressive acting skill and stunts choreography. She really embodied her double personality character and it shows on-screen whether she is flying on rooftops or playing giddy host in the beginning. The complexity of her character is what carries the movie afloat, yet at the same time that’s what makes the movie lopsided. I love Jen, that’s for sure, but her character is unjustly domineering to the characters played by Chow Yun‑Fat and Michelle Yeoh. Or perhaps that was intentional? Since I have learned that Li Mu Bai and Yu Shu Lien were indeed supporting characters in the book. However, the three actors have such a great chemistry that whether you can’t follow what’s going on the screen, you will most likely enjoy the fantastic action sequences.
Speaking of screen, let’s get one thing clear: Ang Lee is one of my favourite directors. I have seen (and loved) almost all of his films, but Crouching might be my least favourite (okay I lied, Hulk takes the prize). As I said, the fighting scenes are mind-blowing as well as the talented casts. I also enjoyed the cinematography but script wise, it’s quite fragile and perhaps that’s out of Ang Lee’s hand? Maybe so, however, I have few questions I would like to ask him like: why don’t you put the kidnapping scene earlier in the movie?, who is this Jade Fox lady and why should I care about her? why is Jen suddenly evil, like what disorder is she suffering from? and why does the English dubbing sucks?