Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon
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Forget Charlie's Angels! For great role models, take your daughters to see some real girl-power in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.  This is a film where the female "heroes" are truly equal to the men and when they do fall in love, the guys they choose are worth it. In this respect, the story departs from what is otherwise a very traditional Chinese story. You will think at times that you are watching an episode of  The Water MarginCrouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon unites the Hong Kong film heavyweights, Ang Lee, Chow Yun-Fat, Michelle Yeoh and Yuen Wo-Ping. All have lately made Hollywood films and are known to North American audiences.  Ang Lee is the director of The Wedding Banquet, Eat Drink Man Woman, Sense and Sensibility, and The Ice Storm. Yun-Fat has been seen in Anna and the King, and The Replacement Killers. Yeoh was more than a match for James Bond in Tomorrow Never Dies. Finally, Wo-Ping created the fight scenes in The Matrix.  The plot of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is a bit convoluted but an ageing warrior hero (Yun-Fat) decides he wants to slow down a bit and spend some quality time with the love of his life (Yeoh) who is also a hero in her own right.  So, he gives away his famous sword only to have it stolen by an up-and-coming hero (Ziyi Zhang), a young woman who wants adventure rather than the marriage her parents are planning for her.  She has already had a taste of adventure having been kidnapped by, and then fallen in love with a dashing bandit (Chen Chang). Yun-Fat decides that he must come out of retirement and with Yeoh's help reclaim the sword.  Also, in the mix is an evil warrior (Pei-Pei Cheng), another woman,  who is both Zhang's mentor and Yun-Fat's arch-enemy.  Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is a beautiful film shot on location in China. The cast is wonderful and nothing is lost by the fact that they speak chinese with subtitles. For me, Yeoh stands out, showing great versatility, as she expresses her unconsummated love for Yun-Fat in one scene then running up a wall for some swordplay in the next.  Yun-Fat is perfect as the soulful hero.  And newcomer, Zhang, holds up well against all this star power.  Cheng doesn't get to do as much but he looks very good on a horse. The fight scenes, while just as amazing as The Matrix, have a completely different style.  The heroes fly gracefully, Peter-Pan-like, through the air as they pursue each other.  Unlike Charlie's Angels which aped The Matrix fights, Wo-Ping goes in a whole different direction creating scenes that are unlike anything I've seen before.  In one amazing scene, Yun-Fat and Zhang fight while perched on the topmost swaying branches of trees in a forest. The only thing I felt missing from the film was the back story of Yun-Fat and Yeoh. We are treated to a long segment on how Zhang and Cheng meet and fall in love, but Yun-Fat and Yeoh's history remains a bit mysterious.  Together, the direction, acting, cinematography, special effects and even the subtitle writing all combine to form a wonderful film.  Lee has shown that he can make almost any kind of film and make it very well. This one is fun to watch.