on 8 November 2005
I love this film, simply for me because it is beautiful.
The fight scenes are breath-taking, the musical score is so haunting (using the Cello to great effect) and the story-line is one long roller coaster ride of twists and turns.
Anyone who dismisses it because of the flying sequences is probably unaware of the wirework used in a hell of a lot of martial arts movies.
I have never found the dubbing a problem for the simple reason that I watch it subtitled in mandarin, otherwise it loses it’s genuine feel, it seems that in most films the transaction from eastern to western is not a happy one. It seems we take great pleasure in changing the voices to sound ‘wacky’ and entertaining, in most cases the most inappropriate voice actors are chosen and key parts of the plot are missed out. It seems that we can’t cope with a complex storyline if we can’t read what the cast are saying, surely your brain couldn’t take it? So the people who put the effort in to read the subtitles are rewarded with the ‘true’ film, I must admit, I always watch Asian films with subtitles, how can you not like the sounds of the language being spoken?
Anyway, the film for me is totally legendary, one of a few more recent martial arts movies I have enjoyed.
on 4 July 2009
There's already many reviews for the movie itself here on Amazon, and im sure the majority of people interested in this have already seen it in one form or another. For that reason this is basically a review of the Bluray itself. As im sure a lot of people want to know if its worth trading in their dvd for.
First of all, any cool new extras? Ala's no. We have a commentary with Ang Lee and James Schamus. A conversation with Michelle Yeoh (interview). Making of featurette.... and a photo gallery. All of which were supplied on previous DVD releases. Unfortunately, they are still in SD as well.
Secondly, the sound and subtitles. Thankfully we have TrueHD 5.1 for the English dub and Mandarin track. There are a 18 subtitle options in total, including English, and English for the hearing impaired.
Finally, the picture. I wasn't blown away at first truth be told, as I skipped to one of the movies night sequences. The picture had some grain to it, although its quite mild I wonder if it has had some DNR applied to it, as on closer inspection it did appear as though skin complexions would blur a little when moving. Blacks were mostly solid although I did notice a lack of detail on them during the night scenes, especially the fast moving ones. Again, perhaps a result of applied DNR. Day scenes I found to be excellent. Very clear with plenty of detail anywhere you looked. Nice!
Overall though, the picture is good and at times very good. The print used is very clean with almost no dirt or grain to be seen. Its only the night scenes that I could find a few faults with, nothing that serious though and nothing that made me regret my purchase. I can honestly say, yes it is worth buying even if you own the DVD. It's a far better Bluray than the House of Flying Daggers release we had as well, which im sure you will all be relieved to hear.
The lack of effort put into the extras would probably push me towards giving this Bluray a 3.5 if I could, but as Amazon dont allow halves, and I think its pretty good when compared to a number of catalogue titles, I think its deserving of 4 stars.
on 19 June 2001
Beautiful cinematography, an amazing soundtrack, moving performances from the whole cast... Oh, and some of the most breathtaking fight-scenes ever filmed. The first fight between Jen and Shu-Lien - the roof-type scene - is mesmerising, and the elegance with which all the fighters move makes Keanu Reeves and Laurence Fishburne look like clumsy wranglers by comparison. If you haven't seen this film yet, you'll have heard by now that the characters can practically 'fly' - causing a lot of short planks to moan that the film is "unrealistic", as though Ang Lee had tied the cast to ropes and made them fly all by complete accident - but if you have the intelligence to suspend disbelief, this is one of the greatest movies of recent years. A shame that the same can't be said about the DVD, though. The 'making of' feature contains virtually nothing about the making of the film at all. But most unforgivable is the fact that for some unfathomable reason, the English subtitles provided on the DVD are not the same as the ones that were used in the cinematic release, and completely ruined the tone of the film for me - especially in the final romantic scenes where the new translation seems clumsy and staid. I am completely gutted at this alteration, in fact, and feel a little cheated that we are not getting quite the same film as the one we saw in the cinema.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, a traditionally made wuxia, or Chinese martial arts film. It fulfills most of the melodrama shown in standard kung-fu movies, and yet it is so much more than that.
Chow Yun Fat plays Li Mu Bai, an outstanding warrior of the Wutan style of martial arts and swordplay. He is on a mission to avenge the murder of his Master, but he is also bound with honour to deny the love he feels for his best friend, Yu Shu Lien, played by Michelle Yeoh.
Mu Bai gives Shu Lien The Green Destiny, his cherished sword, and asks her to deliver it to Sir Te, Lung Sihung, a leader and a friend of her father.
As soon as the sword gets placed on display, it gets stolen. It is widely believed that Jade Fox, the arch-nemesis of Mu Bai, is behind the disappearance of The Green Destiny.
Shu Lien, however, believes that Jen, the daughter of a governor who is a house guest of Sir Te, has something to do with it. The story continues as Mu Bai and Shu Lien attempt to regain possession of the sword.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is beautiful on many levels. It depicts diverse landscapes of China, from the Gobi desert, the ancient metropolis of Peking, through to the southern Bamboo Forest.
The beauty of the film lies far deeper than mere scenery though. It lies within the human emotions, their connections and repressed feelings. Each character in the film is like a river, calm on the exterior with a current flowing fast beneath the surface.
The advantage of the dvd is for those who are put off by subtitles. The original production is filmed in Mandarin and subtitled in English. Dvd means that you can dub over the film in English, if you prefer. It is interesting to note, however, that both Michelle Yeoh and Chow Yun Fat speak Cantonese, and were, therefore, speaking in a language which was not their own.
The first real action scene is about twenty minutes into the film and it is difficult to do it justice, for it is far removed from your usual martial art films. It includes gravity-defying leaps, and body-defying contortions. Absolutely fantastic!
These acclaimed combat scenes are choreographed by Yuen Wo-Ping, who also arranged The Matrix fights, and although I hate wire-stunt work in fight scenes, it does actually have a place in this film because the story supports it, Wutan warriors are trained to control this special ability. Ang Lee also saved the magical quality of these fights by cutting in for long close ups of the actors/actresses as they stare into each other's faces, scrutinising and trying to figure each other out. This is so much more than a mere fighting movie.
Michelle Yeoh is like a shining star in this movie. She plays such a humble and compassionate character, and yet is a true warrior, through and through.
Zhang Ziyi, however, is who really makes this film what is, a masterpiece. Her character, Jen, goes through so many different emotions, and she plays them flawlessly. She is the 'Hidden Dragon' of the title, her full name translating into, 'Nimble Jade Dragon'. Lo Xiao Hu, the Mongolian bandit that she falls in love with, is the 'Crouching Tiger', for his name translates as 'Little Tiger'.
The real heart of this movie is in the extended love scene between Jen and Lo, despite criticism to the contrary. Set against a backdrop of the Gobi desert, their relationship is refreshing in its sincerity.
The ending is tragic, and yet, it is not all saddening. Ang Lee's message, to be true to yourself, is clear to the viewer as the film draws to a close.
Truly - A work of art.
on 3 April 2006
Quite the perfect film ... So many elements combine to keep the viewer mesmerized. The exotic scenery of ancient Chinese cultural life hook the imagination. The forces of good and evil battle directly in society and within the souls of the characters. There are underlying esoteric elements which make the story mysterious and provide for surprises and unexpected but deeply satisfying viewing moments from beginning to end. The yin-yang conflicts between various characters provide the romantic see-saw that captures the reader's interest. A highly regarded warrior who defends against evil has reached a point in his life where he relinquishes his famous and feared sword, "The Green Destiny" to discover and explore deeper aspects of himself and life ... At some point, he had gone into a deep meditation and arrived at a place his master had never mentioned nor described. Later, his master had been murdered and the warrior could not ask him to explain this experience. He has a female protaganist who is also a warrior and accepts the solitary nature of this fighter but clearly they share strong emotional bonds. This repressed chemistry promises their paths will continually cross as they explore the depth and meaning of strong feelings throughout the film. She delivers "the Green Destiny" as a gift to the local magistrate/governor of the province for safe keeping. The magistrate has a daughter who is being prepared for an arranged marriage ... to consolidate the interests of two ruling families ... Hidden aspects of the daughter's character provide for unexpected adventure and romance ...
Secretly, the daugher had learned warrior skills and longed to express this independent aspect of herself ... but she lacks the personal understanding of the esoteric nature of this lifestyle. On a carriage ride with her family through the mountains and arid deserts she is captivated by an invading group of bandits, especially the leader who is young and handsome and has a mysterious reputation. He grabs her ivory hair comb as she leans fearlessly out the carriage window to watch the assualt. She unexpectedly jumps out, mounts a horse and shows remarkable skills during the chase scene ... all to retrieve back her hair comb. He captures her and takes her to his mountain cave home ... they fall in love. He tells her stories and allegories which serve to bind her even closer to him ...
The forces of evil are embodied in the form of Jade Fox who was a servant and nanny to the wealthy Chinese daughter in the past. Jade Fox had acquired a book from which she learned the warrior skills but she failed to use the skills wisely. She lashes out with vengence at the forces of good. The author's creativity and exceptional talents come alive on the screen. The hair-pin curves and twists in the plot are executed with perfection. The ending is sadly fulfilling ... leaving the viewer breathless! Erika Borsos (bakonyvilla)
on 19 July 2013
This is a magical film and the magic of it is so purely Chinese and so purely Mental that we do not even have any problem entering it and believing it. It is the story of a very special sword from very ancient China, a sword that carries fate and destiny in it for the person who controls it, because it is not enough to own it, you must control it and when you control it, it controls you. That sword is stolen and tamed by a young woman who is to marry some nobleman though long before she was both abducted and saved by a wild young man roaming in the mountains and distant deserts, far from everything. They fell in love after much fighting.
When her marriage arrives, the young man comes to Beijing to claim the young woman but that is impossible because her father is the governor. So he manages to escape and she decides to steal the sword and to go after him. The story becomes complicated then and yet very simple. She is in love with a middle-age woman she calls her sister and who was the owner of the sword. Hence a rivalry for who will control it develops. That middle-age woman was in love with a man her age who was in love with her but both could not go through their love for various honorable reasons, for various pledges they had taken to their masters, the woman her fighting master, the man his Buddhist spiritual master.
These two go after the escaping girl and finally find her in the hands of a witch who has drugged her. They bring her back to consciousness but the witch comes back from some errand and the fight will poison the man and the witch with the witch's poisoned darts. Then the younger woman learns from the middle-age woman where the young man she loves is and she goes there to meet him, to share her love with him one single night and then escape anew in the most Buddhist way possible by flying into the mountain mist and finding enlightenment and merging with the cosmic energy of the mountains. The young man will remain behind and mourn her forever.
A love story film with two love stories crossing and in both cases love can be at most exchanged for a very short period of time because of full dedication to a wider and deeper objective, be it the loyalty to a sword and a martial art, or be it a Buddhist pledge to reach enlightenment. In both cases attachment is impossible, love is possible but cannot become an attachment, hence a permanent relation. Everything is impermanent and has to be impermanent not to enslave the person on the way to mental and spiritual liberation.
I just wonder though if that attachment to these principles is not an excessive attachment too and hence a blocking element on the path to "nibbana" with a trace of Tibetan Buddhism with the middle-age man who dies in the arms of the middle-age woman he has loved all his life without ever saying so: he declares his love before dying which becomes a blocking element on the path to his liberation and he knows it and chooses at this moment to be a ghost caught between the world of the living and the world of the dead, unable to escape this state till at last a rebirth, a reincarnation makes him a man again for him to have a second chance to reach "nibbana", enlightenment.
The beauty of the film is in the spectacular landscapes and mountain scenery, in the extreme power of the mental and spiritual sentiments and even passions, in the depth and faithfulness of their love and their friendship, and the impossible merging of this with Buddhism and martial arts that both require a pledge to total detachment and absolute dedication to a spiritual ideal.
This film has to be enjoyed like some extreme elixir from the most refined and intense essences and liquors. Then flying will become natural and the battle in the bamboo copses or groves will be a fairy show of intemporal human luxuriance.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU
If asked my favourite ten films, this would be one of them, and if asked the most beautiful films I`ve ever seen, this would be in my top three.
How to describe in words the spell this unique film casts?
There is running through this lengthy saga an utterly beguiling mix of story, dream, violence, sexuality, romance, sadness, suspense, and of course martial arts sequences that are magical & breathtaking to behold. The justly famed walking-across-the-trees scenes had me gaping in awe the first time I saw them, and I look forward to them at each viewing, not to mention the running up walls and leaping across rooftops...I`ve had dreams of my own like that!
In a strange way, this is indeed the film - almost literally - of my dreams. Ang Lee, one of the world`s few truly visionary film makers, melds matter-of-fact dreamlike action with a languidly told tale of love, deception, revenge and catharsis. What it all `means` does not concern me as much as the sheer storytelling prowess on show, and the film`s dedication to the transformative, visual properties of cinema.
The acting is magnificent, Michelle Yeoh`s dignified, often sad face unforgettable.
Ang Lee`s record as a great, world-class director is second to none now, and CTHD is a jewel in his well-earned crown.
If you`ve yet to see this wonderful film - how I envy you.
on 2 July 2001
The movie was able to really bring the dream-like fantasy world of wu-xia stories to life. Rather than the typical focus of action-only martial arts sequences, it was able to blend emotions and actions into a beautifully orchestrated screenplay.
The main actors - Zhang ZiYi and Michelle Yeoh showed great composure alongside Chow who played the character very well despite having to memorise his lines phonetically. Zhang showed great maturity and intensity in her acting.
The film is truly a cinematic experience, the fighting sequences expertly choreographed and the sound track deeply moving and engaging. Without a doubt, a great effort from Ang.
However, I was disappointed with the content of the DVD, the extra features are not up to my liking.
First of all, the commentary track was more a chit-chat session between Ang and writer James. I would expect more of the director explaining his vision of each shot and the difficulty and experience he had while making the film.
I would also be happier to see the sound track video and interviews with Zhang included in the featurettes.
But overall, the DVD is a good addition to your library and brings a great visual experience to your senses.
on 25 June 2006
Ang Lee's film is a benchmark in Martial Arts films - high production values, actors rather than simply stuntmen, and a truly thoughtful and philosophic screenplay. This was the first film, for me, that gave western audiences a sophisticated look at the genre.
If you like being spoon fed and action sequences signposted, then you'll be bewildered and stop watching. It's not a short scene/fast action movie. But if you like a more meditative and philosophical approach to a film, where action happens for a reason and is a reflection of the characters, then it's one of the best you'll ever see. Ang Lee has studied Zen, and you can tell; Jet Li has been heavily influenced by this film, as 'Hero' will testify. Yet 'Hero' is more heavy handed in it's approach, while Ang Lee gives CTHD such a lightness of touch it is, truly, breathtaking. Watch it on as big a screen as you can, and have some kind of knowledge of the history of martial arts films - i.e. the use of wire work is the visual language to illustrate that true martial artists are 'gods' in their skills - and be prepared to be enlightened about the Chinese Taoist/Buddhist approach to life. A beautiful film, which gives more depth at each viewing.
on 8 April 2008
I initially had grave doubts about this film - however those doubts were plain and simply wrong. This film has just about everything you could ever want from a movie. It has epic fight scenes, contains beautiful landscapes, martial arts of the finest order and contains one of the most moving and simple love stories even portrayed in cinema.
Michelle Yeoh and Zhang Ziyi performances are first rate. The cinematography is outstanding. This is fiction not reality.
For the philistine there is an English dubbed version, alternatively you can watch in Mandarin with subtitles. Absolutely beautiful is the best way to describe this film, if you are looking for a Chinese made Kill Bill - look away - yes this has fights scenes but they are almost poetic and not bloody. I think the reason this film suffers on the rating (I.e. not the five stars it deserves) is because people are going into this film expected a Kill Bill / blood-a-thon and unfortunately for the average 18 year old this film will be too much for them. Those that can saviour this masterpiece for what it is will be rewarded.
I need not summarise this film, just watch it and let it do the talking.