Director – Ang Lee
Writers – Du Lu Wang (book), Hui-Ling Wang (screenplay), James Schamus (screenplay) and Kuo Jung Tsai (screenplay)
There are not that many films that actually take your breath away at the magnificent artistry of their shots, but Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon does that, repeatedly. The backdrops fly by through every subtle shade of each season while the actors fly through the air on wires performing unbelievably technical feats of wonder, under the brilliant martial arts choreography of Yuen Wo Ping, each frame shimmering with a fresh, vibrant glow. The crouching tiger and hidden dragon of the title are never literally seen, but what we do witness is amazing stunt work, thrilling slow motion action that gracefully follows the movements of the actors, enhancing the enchanting visuals to a razor sharp point. The plot and characterisation are equally crisp and sleek, with the delicate but deadly Yu Shu Lien (Michelle Yeoh) pitted against the interests of wayward Master Li Mu Bai (Yun-Fat Chow) and the menacing Luo Xiao Hu or Lo ‘Dark Cloud’ (Chen Chang), with a young Jen Yu (Ziyi Zhang) propelling the action in her quest for a mythical sword.
The soundtrack is also extremely pertinent, with Tan Dun employing specific instruments that relate to specific locations, such as a Chinese flute to denote the South China scenes and Central Asian instruments in the desert sequences, adding more shades of authenticity.
This epic story is compelling and original, and the film deserves widespread recognition for the masterpiece that it is.