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Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon Movie Poster

Year: 2000
Director: Ang Lee

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon Download

Cast:

Yun-Fat Chow (Master Li Mu Bai (as Chow Yun Fat)), Michelle Yeoh (Yu Shu Lien), Ziyi Zhang (Jen Yu (Mandarin version) / Jiao Long (English dubbed version) (as Zhang Ziyi)), Chen Chang (Lo 'Dark Cloud' / Luo Xiao Hu), Sihung Lung (Sir Te), Pei-pei Cheng (Jade Fox (as Cheng Pei-Pei)), Fa Zeng Li (Governor Yu), Xian Gao (Bo), Yan Hai (Madame Yu), De Ming Wang (Police Inspector Tsai / Prefect Cai Qiu), Li Li (May (as Li Li)), Su Ying Huang (Auntie Wu), Jin Ting Zhang (De Lu), Rei Yang (Maid), Kai Li (Gou Jun Pei), Jian Hua Feng (Gou Jun Sinung), Zhen Xi Du (Shop Owner), Cheng Lin Xu (Captain), Feng Lin (Captain), Wen Sheng Wang (Gangster A)

Storyline:

Li Mu Bai, a great warrior decides to turn in his sword, the Green Destiny to a treasured friend. When the sword is then stolen, it is up to him to retrieve it. At the same time he is trying to avenge his master's death by the evil Jade Fox. He is joined in his quest by Shu Lien, the un-conceded love of his life. During all of this, they are introduced to Jiao Long Yu, the mysterious and beautiful daughter of a well known family. She is the mysterious link to all these tales. But through all the many subplots, this is in essence, a love story.

Reviews:

Crouching Tiger is Ang Lee's take on the Wu Xia tradition of film making. Wu Xia, for those not familiar with the style, evolved out of popular Chinese fiction. It contains formulaic elements such as honourable warriors, powerful swordswomen, powerful swords, and often magic and mythical beasts. Possibly, it has a parallel with sword and sorcery pulp literature – and even Western romances.

Although he grew up in Taiwan, not Hong Kong or China, Ang Lee has said he has always wanted to make a Wu Xia film. When he did, he brought sophistication and strong production values which, while not uncommon in mainstream Chinese cinema, was less common in the martial arts or Wu Xia traditions.

Make no mistake; Crouching Tiger is a beautiful, beautiful movie. The colours are rich, the light dances and the movements are balletic. But unlike lesser imitations, such as Hero, it is much more than that just stylish production and mesmerising action.

Most films (Western or Eastern) have a rigid plot against which characters move. At worst the characters become ciphers; they advance the story by making choices regardless of whether these choices are in keeping with their character. Crouching Tiger, like the best of cinema, has dynamic characters whose internal struggles advance the plot. The dog wags the tail, not the other way around.

At the heart of Crouching Tiger is the relationship between Li Mu Bai (Chow Yun-Fat) and Yu Shu Lien (Michelle Yeoh). Mu Bai is looking for a way out of the Gang Ho (Warrior) lifestyle – he joins a monastery, as a route to enlightenment and peace, but cannot cast aside his unrequited love for Shu Lien (another warrior). On the brink of declaring their love for one another, Mu Bai's Green Destiny Sword is stolen, and his arch enemy returns. He must temporarily put aside his feelings to recover the sword and bring his master's killer to justice… Seeming to take a fair chunk from his previously directorial role, Sense and Sensibility, Ang Lee weaves a story which tragically juxtaposes the loving and giving but repressed relationship of Mu Bai and Shu Lien, with the fiery, wilful and destructive passions of Jen Yu (Zhang Ziyi) and Lo (Chang Chen). The result, for me, was breathtaking.

Some critics have suggested that the characterisation is quite slight. I think this just demonstrates the high standard to which they were prepared to judge this film. Ang Lee perfectly marries action/adventure with drama. The results may not please purists from either camp, but for the rest of the audience it is pure magic.

In many ways, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon is pure Wu Xia. But it has also re-invented the genre and given it artistic credibility. The greatest joy of the film is watching great Hong Kong stars like Chow Yun-Fat and Michelle Yeoh being given characters with depth – and watching them fill the screen with their performances. The film also benefits from great performances from Zhang Ziyi and a very under-rated Chang Chen.

Quite simply, Crouching Tiger has everything. It is beautiful, breathtaking and deeply moving. 9½ /10

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There's a telling moment near the beginning of Ang Lee's "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon."

In closeup, we see the rough-hewn, heavy wooden wheels of a peasant cart. They nestle in deep ruts worn into the stone paving blocks of a roadway entering a gated city. The cart rumbles on, its wheels fitting perfectly into the grooves worn by unspoken centuries of just such passing wagons...in one image we see how tradition creates its own paths, how contemporary reality is fabricated to fit such traditions... The camera rises, we see an almost impossible panorama of Peking, the Forbidden City spreading out before us like an Oz extending to the horizon.

What a film this is: a superb action adventure romance with terrific acting and a much-welcome heart underlying the technical superiority.

"Crouching Tiger...", I am told, is representative of a specific literary/cinematic genre in China: Wu Xia...the wizard/warrior piece...magic and martial arts blended. I'm not familiar with the form, but the world portrayed here is a breathtakingly fantastical one. The story is putatively set in 19th century China, but it could be anywhere, anywhen. It is a place of high honor and deep feelings, a place where people are bound by traditions and held captive by their forms. It is also a place of wild and mythic landscapes...from stark desert (thought nowhere do we get that featureless, wide-screen linear horizon seen in David Lean's "Lawrence of Arabia!") to magic misty green mountains with deep dark lakes and steeply cascading streams that come braiding, tumbling down the rockslide heights. High, reedy bamboo forests wave, wondrous, in sighing winds.

In this world people may do amazing things. The flying in this movie -- properly called "wire work" in film terms -- is fantastic. This technique, of course, was not invented by the Wachowski's, but the choreographer of "Crouching Tiger...", Woo-ping Yuen, also staged the wire-fights of "Matrix." Here, the ability of our warrior heros and villains to climb walls, to leap to the rooftops and soar from building to building -- not to mention engaging each other in aerial combat that soars from the peak of a mountain top to the rocks of a mountain stream in a single take -- or to duel on the very tips of dipping, waving bamboo trees -- looks almost plausible, just over the border of the possible, at least. The whole packed-in audience at the big theater at the advanced screening at Pipers Alley in Chicago burst into spontaneous applause several times throughout...

At other moments, I found myself in weepy transport. As I think of the fight in the treetops, right now, I become drippy -- tingly of eye and sinus.

Apart from all else, this is grand storytelling! It has passion, love, revenge...it expresses deep need and longing.

And, yes, the woman are the action hearts of the film! Michelle Yeoh is wonderful...but I've been in love with her for years. Here, she is more mature, quieter, wiser than in any role I've seen her in. Her performance is strong and moving, her face registering, magically, a range of conflicting emotions, hidden secrets, crouching angers, all at once. In acting training we were always told you can't do that. She does it.

Chow Yun Fat, too...I've been a fan of his since I first discovered John Woo's Hong Kong crime thrillers...is the best I've ever seen, as well...magnificent in his silences. Strength without cruelty.

The center of the film is a girl who looks to be about 15! Ziyi Zhang whose date of birth is given as 1979. Zhang is from Beijing, China, and has only one other film credit. She is remarkable. Her story is the film's binding element. And this newcomer holds it together! Holding her own with Yeoh and Chow in both dramatic material and in the balletic martial pas des dieux's that frame the conflicts between characters. She is the "Luke Skywalker" of the piece, if you will...though "Crouching Tiger..." has everything the "Star Wars" saga aspires to: excitement, thrills and magic. Here however, technical fireworks are wrapped heart and deeply resonant spirit. Elements Lukasfilm wanted to have, but which it succeeded in providing only in the most self-conscious way.

By the way: 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. There is, I believe, only one small splash of blood on-screen. Typically, I don't like that -- figuring that if you're going to do a film where violence is part of it all, where action advances plot, let's have it full-bore, the "Full Peckinpaw," if you will. Here, however, this stylization works beautifully with action sequences that take the breath away and inspire a sense of awe, rather than simply leave you white-knuckled and sweaty.

There are those who will grumble that Jackie Chan (another favorite of mine) does it all for real, without wires and tricks. True enough... But here that exuberance of motion is in service of a grand story and strong characters who carry worthwhile emotional burdens!

I won't be able to wait for the DVD, and will probably see it again, perhaps see it twice before it hits the home-market.

My recommendation: Just go see it.

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