Celebrated director Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain, Eat Drink Man Woman) virtually reinvented Chinese cinema’s wuxia swordplay genre with this exhilarating, action-packed, swooning romantic adventure starring Michele Yeoh and Chow Yun-Fat as estranged lovers searching for the stolen Green Destiny sword. Ziyi Zhang is the hot-blooded younger woman who is equally adept at martial arts, bent on crossing blades with the two at every opportunity.
“Ang Lee, a world-class director working at the top of his elegant form, has done something thrilling. For all the leaping action, it’s the film’s spirit that soars.” – Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
With its dizzying series of plots and counterplots involving warriors, thieves, aristocrats and assassins, bolstered by lighter-than-air action sequences and a pair of moving love stories, Lee’s multi-Oscar winning hit helped renew the wuxia genre simply by taking it seriously, imbuing all the incredible martial arts sequences with realism and a stylized visual aesthetic, harkening back to the classic wuxia cinema of Chinese filmmaker King Hu, whose 1967 film Dragon Inn served as inspiration for both Lee’s film and Zhang Yimou’s House of Flying Daggers. As in Hu’s film, the women (including veteran wuxia star Chenh Pei-Pei as super-villainess Jade Fox) are at the center of the action, in the astonishingly choreographed fight sequences, as well as within the larger story. A huge box-office hit around the world, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was a major crossover success in the United States, where it generated a serious re-evaluation of the entire martial arts genre. (Dir. by Ang Lee, 2000, China/Hong Kong/Taiwan/USA, in Mandarin with English subtitles, 120 mins., Rated PG-13)