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CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON

Starring: Chow Yun-Fat, Michelle Yeoh, Zhang Ziyi
Director: Ang Lee
Rated: M

Silk Screen is the name of the Chinese film industry’s push into western cinemas. Last year we received The Road Home, Not One Less and Bathhouse among others, demonstrating that China now has one of the most important film communities in the world.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is considered to be one of the best examples of the Silk Screen collective.

Set in the Qing Dynasty, Li Mu Bai (Chow Yun-Fat) is a renowned warrior. He wants to leave his warrior life behind and settle down with equally renowned woman warrior, Yu Shu Lien (Michelle Yeoh). He surrenders his antique sword to her and asks her to give it to Governor Yu. The sword is stolen from Yu’s palace. To recover the stolen sword Mu Bai and Shu Lien must enter Jade Fox’s (Cheng Pei Pei) world of treachery and evil and confront Jen (Zhang Ziyi), her surprising apprentice.

It is hard to define the genre of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. It is part fantasy, as the warriors fly through the air and skim across the roofs. It is part Chinese western, as the cowboys use every Chinese martial art to win the fight.

It is part romance as Mu Bai pursues his long held love for Shu Lien and Jen must choose between an arranged marriage and Lo (Chang Chen), the king of Mongolian cowboys. And it is part action thriller as we discover who is aligned with whom and why they want the sword.

Best known in the West for directing Sense and Sensibility, Ang Lee combines all these elements into a highly evocative film. He draws out of all his actors’ memorable and compelling performances.

Already nominated for an Oscar, this film will win awards everywhere in the next year.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon enshrines the virtues of contemplation, discipline and “being true to oneself”.

At the same time it portrays how duty can get in the road of the human heart and how a full human soul is one that is honest about what and who it loves.

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