Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
review by Darth Buzz
Notes: The video is anamorphic widescreen with a 2.35:1 aspect ratio and looks great. The sound is Mandarin 5.1 Dolby Digital, English 5.1 Dolby Digital, and French 2 channel Dolby Surround. I have watch the complete film in Mandarin 5.1 with English subtitles and it sounded great. I also listened to the English 5.1 dub for about 30 minutes. I thought this was an excellent dub and would recommend it to anyone who absolutely can't handle subtitles. I am not one of those snobs that totally hates dubbing. I kind of like it in Anime, but for non-animated fair I think subtitles are best. As for the extras, the Ang Lee and James Schamus commentary kind of sucked. They were busy joking around instead of saying anything insightful. I could understand this approach to say Big Trouble in Little China, but not CTHD. The other extras are ok but nothing outrageous and the menus animate too much but are still cool. Overall I would buy this DVD because the film is so strong and the transfer is great, not for any extras.
SCORE: 4 Stars
Fantasy films are seemingly impossible to make. I suppose there have been some good efforts, but as I'm writing this, I can't really think of a single good fantasy film. Some people liked Legend, but few would call it a masterpiece. Some swear by Conan, but the rest of us just chuckle. Excalibur was a valiant effort, but deeply flawed.
There's a lot of reasons fantasies fail as movies. Sometimes the effects are bad. Sometimes the set designs are weak. Sometimes they didn't get the costumes right. Sometimes the casting is bad. Hollywood has yet to figure out that the only thing a midget and a dwarf have in common is their height.
Finally, director Ang Lee (The Ice Strom, Eat Drink Man Woman, Sense and Sensibility) has brought us Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. And it's a fantasy masterpiece.
At the heart of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon are three strong willed characters played by Yun-Fat Chow (Chow Yun-Fat), Michelle Yeoh and Ziye Zhang. Chow and Michelle portray aging warriors trained in a special martial arts which allows them to defy gravity and basically clear out a room full of people without breaking a sweat. Their action sequences are impressive.
Ziye plays an aristocratic young woman about to be betrothed against her wishes. She has a secret past, and her story is central in the film. And, what a great story it is: filled with betrayal, ancient lore, lots of sword play, and doomed love.
Everything works splendidly. Let's go through that checklist from paragraph two. The effects are good. The set designs are magnificent. The costumes feel right. The performances are first rate (especially Ziye and Michelle). And, there's not a midget to be found. That's all I ask for.
This is a film of the highest order. This is the film that should have been Best Picture for 2000. Acting, story, cinematography, characters, costumes, sets, music, and action, everything is right on target with CTHD. This film is like visual poetry.
The fight scenes in CTHD are great and the best one is between Shu Lien and Jen (Michelle Yeoh and Ziye Zhang). That fight makes one of my top 5 sword fights of all time. The kid in me wonders if you handed Li Mu Bai a lightsaber and put him against Obi-Wan Kenobi, who would win? (deep thoughts) (lol)
Anyway if you haven't seen this and you have a DVD player go buy it right now. Like the characters in this film, CTHD walks on water.
Oh boy, I feel a storm brewing and it looks like once again, Randolph
Carter was unable to suspend disbelief for a two-hour film. Actually
let's make that 30 minutes, as that's when I hit stop on the VCR. I'm
very sorry if this offends other reviewers, but after 5 minutes of
watching two women bouncing all over the place like Tinkerbells on acid,
I simply couldn't bear it. That was-plain and simple-dumb, and extremely
embarrassing. I will not stick to my normal format for viewing this film
as I was unable to watch the whole thing. From the first 30 minutes I
did happen to see, I was subjected to two overly drawn out martial arts
scenes that made me cringe big time. How long should two people go at
it? Okay, yes you are a competent fighter, and yes, so are you, now
let's get down to business and someone win. And the old Jade Fox
woman--come on. I needed to suspend a lot more than disbelief (like
intelligence) to get past this geriatric nightmare. I guess you can't
please them all.
Your second problem is that if the New York
Fucking Times and the Wall Street Journal can suspend their disbelief
than the man who enjoys adventure stories written for twelve-year-olds
should too. By the way, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was also the most
financially successful foreign film in U.S. history.
Review of Randolph
Carter's Review of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon:
Response to Randolph Carter:
We get a month in-between reviews and then when we get
one it's a movie that you saw 30 minutes of!?!?!?