Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)

9.5 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 10/10

Great action, good acting, amazing visuals

Desert scene goes on long

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

Studio: Sony Picture Classics

Genre(s): Action/Adventure/Martial Arts/Romance

Release Date(s): July 6, 2000 (Hong Kong)/December 8, 2000 (US)

MPAA Rating: PG-13


Everybody was kung fu fighting!

Li Mu Bai (Chow Yun-Fat) has decided to give up his warrior ways and turn his legendary sword the Green Destiny to Sir Te (Sihung Lung).  When a thief steals the Green Destiny, Li Mu Bai and his friend Yu Shu Lien (Michelle Yeoh) discover Governor Yu’s daughter Jen (Zhang Ziyi) is the thief and that she has been training in the Wudang style of fighting.  Exposed, Jen’s partnership with a criminal called the Jade Fox (Cheng Pei-pei) who was responsible for the death of Li Mu Bai’s master is revealed.  Jen goes on the run with the Green Destiny to avoid an arranged marriage, and Li Mu Bai and Yu Shu Lien must recover the Green Destiny to flush out the Jade Fox and reunite Jen with her true love Lo (Chang Chen).


So…um…want to get back to the action?

Directed by Ang Lee, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (臥虎藏龍 or Wo hu cang long) martial arts action romance thriller.  The film is an adaptation of the wuxia novelist Wang Dulu’s fourth entry in the Crane Iron Pentalogy.  The film was released to critical acclaim and won Academy Awards for Best Foreign Film, Best Cinematography, Best Original Score, and Best Art Direction-Set Decoration with nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, and Best Original Song (“A Love Before Time”).

Wuxia is a style of writing which follows the adventures of martial artists and when Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was released this concept of story and fighting was not commonplace.  I remember seeing it in the theater and the crowd mumbling the first time the samurai took to the air.  It took a bit for the crowd to realize that the wire-work effects weren’t meant to be realistic (as in the characters are jumping massive distances) and that the Wudang style makes them lighter than air.


If you fail, you will fall to the pandas

The story has a very epic feel to it and you do feel dropped in to it, much like Star Wars.  There are events and relationships you don’t understand since they occurred before the story began, but trying to decipher the relationships is part of the fun.  The desert scene is way too long and it kind of takes away from a relatively fast moving plot full of action, but the romance is necessary for understanding Jen’s behavior and a nice contrast to Li Mu Bai and Yu Shu Lien’s unspoken love for each other.

The cast for the film is strong and everyone in the film embraces their characters.  Michelle Yeoh and Chow Yun-Fat are great as the couple unable to love each other but they must spend time together due to their mission.  Zhang Ziyi is young but carries her part of the film as the rebellious youth.  I also like Cheng Pei-pei as the evil Jade Fox.

It is this magical flight-like style of the movie that really makes it work. It becomes an art form and it is obvious that the style caught on with multiple films turning to wire-work that might defy reality, but turns the fighting into an art form. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon handled it best because it was back-up by a strong story.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon really started a trend, like it or not.  Like Pulp Fiction, it was kind of a game changer for action pictures.  A lot of movies copied the look and feel of the movie without the success of Ang Lee’s direction.  I still love Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and it has a great feel that just hasn’t been matched.  A sequel Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon:  Sword of Destiny was released in 2016.

Related Links:

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon:  Sword of Destiny (2016)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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