Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Wo hu cang long)
Release year: 2000
Director: Ang Lee
Screenwriter: Hui-Ling Wang, James Schamus, Kuo Jun Tsai, Du Lu Wang (novel)
Starring: Michelle Yeoh, Yun-Fat Chow, Ziyi Zhang, Chen Chang, Sihung Lung, Pei-Pei Cheng, Fa Zeng Li, Xian Gao
Ratings: 4 Oscars: Best Cinematography, Best Original Score, Best Art Direction, Best Foreign Language Film. 6 Oscar nominations: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, Best Original Song. 2 Golden Globes: Best Foreign Language Film, Best Director.
Superior warrior Li Mu Bai (Yun-Fat Chow) wants to leave his fighting days behind him and asks his friend and female warrior Yu Shu Lien (Michelle Yeoh) to give his famous sword Green Destiny to Sir Te (Sihung Lung). But the sword is stolen and the two warriors pursuits the thief leading them to cross roads with Jade Fox (Pei-Pei Cheng) who killed Li Mu Bai’s master.
With Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain, 2005) directing it is no surprise that the drama of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is intense and works well and it is undoubtfully his ability to tell touching human stories that lead this to be the first ever martial arts film to be nominated for a best picture Oscar. But no matter how gripping the story is, the movie is mostly known for its groundbreaking martial arts scenes that plays out more like a deadly ballet than a fight for life, beautiful and inventive, they are without doubt the biggest reason this caught the eyes of the world outside Asia and made it the highest grossing foreign language film in US history. The stunning martial arts and action-sequences were choreographed by Woo-ping Yuen who also worked on The Matrix (1999), Kill Bill: Vol.1 (2003) and Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004). With a movie that Lee himself allegedly pitched to Yeoh as “Sense and Sensibility with martial arts”, this is a movie for both fans of martial arts movie and fans of drama. It is also one of a kind, a melodramatic glimpse of an ancient China, one where myths were still alive and honour meant something, and with amazing pictures of a breathtakingly beautiful landscape, intense drama, a gorgeous score and excellent fight scenes this is definitely more than just a movie, it is an experience!
The name “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon” is a literal translation of the Chinese idiom “臥虎藏龍” which describes a place or situation that is full of danger. It is from a poem of the ancient Chinese poet Yu Xin’s (513-581) that reads “暗石疑藏虎，盤根似臥龍”, which means “behind the rock in the dark probably hides a tiger, and the coiling giant root resembles a crouching dragon.” The last character in Xiaohu and Jiaolong’s names mean “Tiger” and “Dragon” respectively.
Picture copyright: Sony Pictures