This is an action film, almost uniquely without violence or, rather, the violence is so stylized, so removed into some mystical realm, that it almost disappears into dance.
Ang Lee’s “Crouching Tiger” is an example of a specific literary/cinematic genre in China: Wu Xia. Wu Xia, for those not familiar with the style, evolved out of popular Chinese fiction. It contains formulaic elements such as honorable warriors, powerful swords and swordsmen, and often magic and mythical characters. The colors are rich, the light dances and the movements are balletic.
The story is set in 19th century China, but it could be anywhere, in any time. The film unfolds amidst the ancient temples, bamboo forests and painted deserts of China: a sensual, wild and mythic landscape. It is a place of deep honor and feelings, a place where people are bound by traditions and held captive by their roots. This world is inhabited by the Wudan, spectral warriors from legend who effortlessly leap between rooftop and bamboo trees, a medium which ascends them to a plane separated from our everyday mortal lives without losing their humanity.
We believe that the effects and storyline complimented each other brilliantly. This film has lighthearted and heart wrenching moments, romantic interludes, wonderful plot twists, superb acting, beautifully done fight scenes, never before seen special effects. It has it all.
With Yuen Wo Ping as the martial arts director, things can’t get better than this. I dare say that the kung fu movements in this film are definitely more varied and graceful than his other works, for example “Matrix”. In other movies, you get the feeling they’re just fighting it out, but this one has genuine fluidity.
This show is cinematic poetry. The music score compliments the Kungfu sequences like a glove. Everything fits in perfectly. You have to accept the fact that Ang Lee is a visionary and amazing director. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is one of the best films I have ever seen and I would recommend anyone, whether or not they are interested in Kung-fu movies.