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Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)
#1
Back in the good old days, the all or nothing days, this film made Ang Lee 'persona non grata' in the old Asian Films Thread. Lot of anger over the fact that Ang Lee in making a beautiful realised homage to old Wuxia films had failed to note the grandmaster of Wuxia, King Hu, as an influence. It was an odd, vaguely totalitarian, stance to take against the film but back then it gave me the impression the film wasn't particularly well received.

This quote this morning

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Originally Posted by Tarkovsky
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Not sure what the general consensus about Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon is around these parts, but I thought it was damn near a masterpiece. Makes me want to see more films like it, though I know the majority made sense are going to be knock offs.

Made me dig out my DVD copy of the film and try and see how it held up now that I had a greater understanding of Wuxia and had seen my far share of those sort of films. It's easy to see where the references to King Hu come from, Hu's masterpiece a Touch of Zen is referenced visually a great many times in the film, but really aside from stylistic flourishes this film is very much its own beast. Part of that is the unique position Ang Lee has as a director with a string of traditional Hollywood films and more personal asian influenced films under his belt. The result is that he took the best of the Wuxia genre (it's lyricism, it's meditativeness, it's stillness, it's beautiful design) and mixed it with a script that was hefty and engaging. As a lover of Wuxia I've grown accustomed to serpentine plottings of many of the films and as such it was really interesting to see a Wuxia film that was, for lack of a better word, taut.

The other thing to note is how well the choreography works. Yimou probably extended the 'fights as metaphorical and metaphysical construction' paradigm as far as it could go, but this feels like a nice middle ground between the excessive, but beautiful, choreography of Yimou's later movies and the more realistic, but still incredibly stylised and unnatural, action of early Wuxia films, in particular Come Drink With Me which eschewed much of the usual martial arts excess to create sword fights that felt realistic despite their heightend elements.
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#2
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Originally Posted by Spike Marshall
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Back in the good old days, the all or nothing days, this film made Ang Lee 'persona non grata' in the old Asian Films Thread. Lot of anger over the fact that Ang Lee in making a beautiful realised homage to old Wuxia films had failed to note the grandmaster of Wuxia, King Hu, as an influence. It was an odd, vaguely totalitarian, stance to take against the film but back then it gave me the impression the film wasn't particularly well received.

I always was irritated by the hate this very good film got and gets. It's totally knee-jerk, rather like the "waaaaaah I hate Tarantino because he copied CITY ON FIRE and his face is on the CHUNGKING EXPRESS cover" assholes. Maybe so, but Ringo Lam, director of CITY ON FIRE, later copied Peter Weir's WITNESS. Shut the fuck up already. Tarantino made it his own thing, very different from the original. Just because something's popular doesn't automatically make it bad. That goes for Ang Lee's film too.

I don't think CTHD's perfect. The detour into the desert could have been shorter, and apparently Cantonese speaker Chow Yun-Fat and Malay/English speaker Michelle Yeoh absolutely fail at Mandarin, though this doesn't really affect me. But it's better than average for certain and a fine example of the genre.

And Ang Lee NEVER failed to note King Hu. I clearly remember him mentioning him in several interviews.
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#3
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Originally Posted by reggie-wanker
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I don't think CTHD's perfect.

I do.
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#4
One of the things that gets me is that when people complain about someone like Tarantino (who I really don't like as a person) using other films and kind of making them is own, is that based on the popularity of his films, these films that he draws from become popular, and often garner more attention. I know I sought out many films from which Tarantino borrowed for Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs. Same goes for Ang Lee and CTHD.

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Originally Posted by reggie-wanker
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I don't think CTHD's perfect. The detour into the desert could have been shorter, and apparently Cantonese speaker Chow Yun-Fat and Malay/English speaker Michelle Yeoh absolutely fail at Mandarin, though this doesn't really affect me. But it's better than average for certain and a fine example of the genre..

I did a bit of reading about the film, and though Yeoh's Malay accent is somewhat prominent, apparently it's not unbearable, and as for Chow Yun-Fat he speaks fluent Mandarin, but as his second language, and the main complaints were that he was trying too hard to make himself sound like a native speaker.

Overall I think it's brilliant, everything goes together so perfectly, the way the film meshes is pretty uncanny for a film that has so many different aspects to it in which it could easily go wrong.
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#5
Really beautiful film, yeah. Make it a double feature with Ashes Of Time for maximum artsy-auteurs-doing-wuxia fun.
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#6

I'm doing a segment on this film for work (whoo! movies at the office!), so I watched this today. It's been about 13 years. Saw it in the theaters during my 'hate everything that gets super popular' phase of life (oh god, the bands I turned on...) and was pretty miffed that gawd, now those mouthbreathers are going to be all about martial arts films, the posers. They probably don't even know x, y or z. Fuck them. So I saw this, and it was okay. I didn't get it. It was slow, kinda boring at the time. Pretty and the fight scenes were cool, but come on, why couldn't the whole thing be a fight scene? Screw you, Ang Lee!



Fast forward 13 years. I'm 30 now and this movie had me nearly in tears. This is not a young man's film, this is a film about time and regret and sorrow and everything you don't say in life. I was like Jen and Lo when I first saw it, brash, wanting adventure and excitement, not truly realizing the cost associated with that. The fights are impeccably choreographed, but more than thrilling, they're beautiful. Like...poetry, I suppose. Everything feels deliberate, in service of a greater sadness or greater romance. And Yun Fat is, of course, great, but it's Yeoh here who really hit me. She's the one left standing at the end. She's done a lot of straight up action films (that I've seen) so I didn't know she could hold herself with such grace and dignity and...sorrow. Everyone is so sad in this film (as with almost all Ang Lee films), it's haunting and beautiful. I simply cannot stop thinking about it, and not just because I have to turn it into a funny package for television. It's utterly brilliant. And I want to kick 17 year old me's ass for being such an ignorant jackass (for this and so many other reasons).



Honestly, if this is all people experience of the wuxia style and Hong Kong film-making, I am fine with that. Such a brilliant film.

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#7
AThis has been my favorite movie for almost a decade. The final shot is so haunting.

A movie that I always associate it with is The Assassination of Jesse James. Both movies are just incredibly beautiful and so sad.
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