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CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON: DVD

SYNOPSIS:
The title draws on an ancient Chinese saying that characterises situations wherein dwell hidden heroes and legends – where nothing is as it seems. Li Mu Bai (Chow Yun-Fat) is a famous and renowned warrior, but he is unable to declare his love for Yu Shu Lien (Michelle Yeoh) the woman, another warrior trained in the highest form of martial arts, who herself conceals an inner turmoil and yearning that answers Li Mu Bai’s. When the young princess Jen (Zhang Zi Yi) becomes involved in their world via an ancient sword, symbol of the good and the bad in battles fought, a death-defying adventure begins. The biggest threat is Jade Fox (Cheng Pei Pei) a feared fighter, with a mysterious link to Jen, who herself becomes an outcast when she refuses to wed the man chosen for her, falling in love with the outlaw Lo (Chang Chen) in the desert.

Noble warriors and undeclared love, an ancient sword and mysterious societies are just some of the elements that make Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon so appealing and engaging, reaching into the yearning we have for stories with meaning. It also offers fabulously acrobatic action and exotic landscapes.

Li Mu Bai (Chow Yun-Fat) is a famous and renowned warrior, unable to declare his love for Yu Shu Lien (Michelle Yeoh) the woman, another warrior trained in the highest form of martial arts, who herself conceals her interest in Li Mu Bai. When the young princess Jen (Zhang Zi Yi) becomes involved in their world through the disappearance of an ancient sword, a death-defying adventure begins. The biggest threat to Li Mu Bai and Uy Shu Lien is Jade Fox (Cheng Pei Pei) a feared fighter, with a mysterious link to Jen, who herself becomes an outcast when she refuses to wed the man chosen for her, falling in love with the outlaw Lo (Chang Chen) in the desert.

You could almost build a metaphoric bridge between Star Wars and this film, casting The Force as the mystical power of the martial arts school which provides Yu Shu Lien and Li Mu Bai their powers – and also powers the deadly Jade. On which side of The Force will Jen end up is perhaps the Luke Skywalker question, while Lo is a ready equivalent of Han Solo. There are also parallels with the score, in that both make full sue of the classical orchestra and are constructed on classic lines, using powerful musical colours. To my mind, the score is a masterpiece.

I only speculate about this association as a potential (and partial) explanation of the film’s exceptional acceptance by Westerners, who usually resist foreignb language films with subtitles. Behind Star Wars and behind Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon are the mythical stories we respond to. The high level issues of humanity, like honour, loyalty, courage and a code of behaviour that elevates us to genuine nobility are explored through action and adventure.

Or it could be nothing more than a dramatic yet fun movie with good stunts and exotic locations.

On DVD, the return experience of the film itself is just as engaging. The qualities that Ang Lee and his team invest in this work transcend the media on which it is consumed.

The extra features are revealing and entertaining. Like the lengthy (12 minute) Michelle Yeoh interview in which she explains she had devoted two years of her life to it, and how her character differs from her private self…and what that is.

And then there is the unpretentious, humble Ang Lee, whose calm honesty is at odds with his edgy adventureist filmmaking. In both the making of feature and his commentary, his personality enhances our enjoyment.

It is always evident when a DVD transfer has been made with care and with the audience in mind. And like the official website, the DVD is highly aware of – and serves - the digital age. It uses graphics and music to involve and embrace the viewer in a holistic way.

“Hi I’m Ang Lee..director of this crazy movie . . .” is how the audio commentary begins, and it sets the tone for the irreverent and entertaining session. It highlights the fact that the film is primarily F.U.N. what you will also find is a mountain of genuine value, engaging info (how was Beijing 300 years ago…) and riveting background that is like a second layer of enjoyment added to the film. Without pretentions. Lee is amusing with his self effacing explanations of scenes that he describes as “a collection of clichees…” James Schamus is no slouch, either, in the self effacing stakes. Listening to them in this you’d think they weren’t up themselves. Very refreshing.

This is one of my favourite films of recent times, and the DVD lives up to the film. You should have it in your collection.
Andrew L. Urban

Published July 19, 2001



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HEAR our interview with Ang Lee

SOUNDTRACK REVIEW with
audio excerpts

Read our FEATURE

MOVIE REVIEWS

CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON (M)
(China)

CAST: Chow Yun-Fat, Michelle Yeoh, Zhang Zi Yi, Chang Chen, Lung Sihung, Cheng Pei Pei

DIRECTOR: Ang Lee

RUNNING TIME: 120 minutes

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment

DVD RELEASE: July 18, 2001

SPECIAL FEATURES
Widescreen 2.35:1 (16.9 enhanced)
Unleashing Dragons – behind the scenes (20 mins)
Interview with Michelle Yeoh
Audio commentary by director Ang Lee and producer James Schamus
Talent profiles
Trailers
Photo montage with music from soundtrack
Weblink

UPCOMING EVENT
RIVERSIDE SCREEN PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release on 6 consecutive Tuesdays, starts February 17, 2015 at Riverside Theatre, Parramatta, Sydney.

Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.







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