Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon
The back drop filled with grassy small hills; rolling and plenty snow capped mountains. Jagged, stark, and white the character Lo AKA Dark Cloud says “I want to make you mine forever” to his lover Jen. “I will make my mark on the world and earn your parents respect. We have a legend. Anyone who jumps from that mountain, God will grant them a wish. Long ago a young mans parents were ill so he jumped; he didn’t die. He knew his wish would come true. He wasn’t even hurt. He floated away, far away never to return.” One can see the actors sincere expressions on their faces as heart felt word pass between them. In this scene all the cinematic elements blend into an obviously well done perfect moment.
A love story begins between Dark Cloud and Jen as she travels in royal style while wearing the fine silk embroidered robes of a governor’s grand daughter her caravan is high jacked by bandits and robbed. One of these gypsy desert bandits, Lo, rides on horse back close to her carriage and grabs an ivory comb out of her hair. A romance and love affair ensue after he saves her life several times in this barren region.
This movie won four Academy Awards and a Golden Globe for the Best Director Award in 2000 and was directed by Ang Lee. Only a small amount of graphic violence prevails in this martial arts film choreographed by Yuen Wo Ping that also stars Chow Yun Fat and Michelle Yeoh. This is a Sony Picture Classic in collaboration with Columbia Pictures Asia film production with visually striking scenes, and action packed kung-Fu style fighting that is combined at one point with a very dramatic and intense rooftop chase.
This classic but unique Chinese cinema storyline told through subtitles continues on the screen with an amazing sound and visual production throughout. This is a story about the “The Green Destiny Sword.” The story begins in a small picturesque mountain village when Master Li Mu Bai arrives home after this long time away he is reunited with Shu Lien. Their middle class home and costumes are natural and authentic for humble warriors. Master Li and Shu Lien often wearing plain raw silk buttoned robes of the upper society, or that of a serious martial arts student.
Embracing the light, the hero Li Mu Bai returns from battle after having a spiritual experience of an enlightenment without bliss horrific moment on the battle field he was stationed on. He describes this as an endless sorrow and something he can’t let go of. During this return to his family and friends in his home village he gives up the Green Destiny sword saying “It only looks pure because the blood washes off so easily.”
Shu Lien brings the Green Destiny Sword to Lord Te as a gift, but he at first denies acceptance by saying “He is the only one in the world worthy of carrying it,” referring to Master Li. The narrow 2’ X 9”X 1” thick sword, being 400 years old was created with a technique that was lost before the Han Dynasty has seven rubies missing from the handle. Li Mu Bai has owned the sword and Shu Lien has helped to protect it.
Li Mu Bai, Shu Lien, Jen, The Green Fox -along with this Green Destiny sword that can slice through metal seem to have an almost magical supernatural quality about them. Shu Lien privately passes the sword onto the gentle wise aristocrat Lord Te. The home of Lord Te, located in Shanghai, is decorated with the most ornately carved ebony wood arches, jade statues, screen walls of quality and endless ebony doors. Flowers, lanterns, carpets, candles, tapestries and finery accompany his surroundings. At his estate the costumes are especially prestigious and authentic in indicating personal status for the era of the late 1700’s. Lord Te’s attire is that of fine embossed silk. Te wears a black silk cap with a jade stone attached on the front, and has a long black braid that hangs down his back.
The sword of destiny is stolen that same night given to Te by a mystery martial artist who is actually Jen. A young visiting grand daughter of Governor Yu’s to be married soon. She has been secretly studying under the Jade Fox. Eventually Jade Fox becomes aware that as a young girl Jen had stolen pages from Fox’s sacred Wudan book. Jade Fox discovers that her student has hidden the secrets that were pages in her martial art book from her all these years. Fox is not happy about this. This act prevented the Jade Fox from totally achieving her art.
Everyone should see the famous roof top chase that must have inspired several films that came afterward, including action spy films like James Bond and Mission Impossible. The thief and Shu Lien almost dance, thronging hits and kicks as they fly and run gracefully across the clay roof tops and up solid stone walls. The background music driving the excitement and anticipation with the rhythmic pounding of the traditional Chinese bass drum; beats pounding fast like a heart racing. While the musical soundscape, natural and realistic blends with the background of the twang of market drums. The rhythm of drum beats to a fighting and chase during this long sequence: Chasing, fighting, flying over the rooftop; lots of traditional fighting scenes with captivating action, and without apparent real injury damage proceed.
The sassy surprisingly young character of Jen gives the movie a fun spark. She takes on the villagers as a master in a challenge at a restaurant. When one asks if her style is Crane, she replies she is not a duck and conquers everyone there, but especially beats a man that looks like the one she was being forced to marry. Shu Lien and Li Mu Bai trail close behind Jen in pursuit of the sword, but she finds them instead shortly after.
The outdoor landscapes of scenery please the eye and portray diverse aspects of Chinese culture that include different traveled lands; from cities to the rocky knolls of deserts, to plush forests, and mountain tops. The interior scenes of the distinctive homes and costumes add a richness to the cinematic experience. The quality acting and sound design make this movie suburb.