|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
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Crouching Tiger a delight
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Crouching Tiger a delight
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Starring: Chow Yun-Fat, Michelle Yeow
Directed By: Ang Lee
By Cara Moroney
It seems that foreign films are of a higher calibre than the countless duds Hollywood manufactures every year.
Perhaps this is because a foreign film has to reach a higher level of artistic filmmaking to even gain wide release in North America. This holds true for Ang Lee's latest effort, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, which is part fantasy, part martial-arts and part drama.
In Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, the acting, direction, cinematography and script, are all richer than the average movie. The themes of the film are not groundbreaking, however, the unique advantage of this foreign film is its perspective. This film looks at life, love and destiny, but explores these things through the characteristics of ancient Chinese. Along the way, it takes moviegoers to wonderful new places.
The film tracks three main characters, including Chow Yun-Fat and Michelle Yeow, who play two warriors unable to communicate their feelings for each other. And then there is a young governor's daughter, who is trapped by an impending arranged marriage, and her status as a women. She yearns for freedom and adventure in her boring life, while keeping her warrior habits a secret from her family.
The film begins with Yun-Fat giving up his sword, Green Destiny, in an attempt to escape his fighting days. However, when he receives news that the sword has been stolen, he is quickly pulled back into the mix. The title Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is meant to describe actual characters in the film, but it also implies the idea of an impending destiny versus the secret and desired life.
The film's cinematography is breathtaking and deserves an Oscar nod. The long takes of beautiful vistas are a wonderful backdrop to the story. There is the city of Peking, the desert canyons and mountains and the lush, green forests. All of it suggests a land of fantasy, mystery and possibility, which is ironically juxtaposed by the characters' confinement. The characters can fly and can experience deep meditation, yet they cannot change their fate.
The script also reinforces this idea effectively. It's not at all heavy-handed and it has some well-placed humour. Characters' words and actions illustrate their reluctance to fulfill their true desires. The film also contain many fight scenes for the martial-arts fan. They are exciting and majestic, much like a flowing dance, but border on the bizarre and fantastic.
Do not let a fear of subtitles stop you from seeing this film. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is beautifully acted and directed. It does what a movie is truly supposed to do take the audience to another place, not just to a different country and time, but a different world. Yet, there is also something to come away with after seeing it. The last scene between Chow Yun-Fat and Michelle Yeow is truly moving. In the midst of Oscar buzz season, this will be the movie to watch and it is, thankfully, a refreshing change.