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Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon(2000)
Two master warriors are faced with their greatest challenge when the treasured Green Destiny sword is stolen. A young aristocrat prepares for an arranged marriage, but soon reveals her superior fighting talents and her deeply romantic past. As each warrior battles for justice, they come face to face with their worst enemy - and the inescapable, enduring power of love.
For more about Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon Blu-ray release, see Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on July 26, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Director: Ang Lee
Writers: James Schamus, Tsai Kuo-Jung, Wang Hui-Ling
Starring: Yun-Fat Chow, Michelle Yeoh, Ziyi Zhang, Chen Chang, Sihung Lung, Pei-pei Cheng
» See full cast & crew
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon Blu-ray Review
Sony's standalone release of Ang Lee's classic adds a new commentary track to entice buyers.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, July 26, 2010
A sword by itself rules nothing.
With the success of 2000's Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon came a new trend that saw Western moviegoers embracing the effects-heavy period Eastern Martial Arts "Wuxia" pictures that deliver high-flying action-as-ballet with substantive plots and rich characters. A far cry from both the typical American style run-and-gun mindless Action movies and the John Woo (Hard Boiled, The Killer) and Jackie Chan (The Legend of Drunken Master) flicks that had previously defined Western interest in Eastern cinema, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon dazzled Western audiences not only with its acrobatic grace and visual finesse, but a rich and compelling story that was worthy of the breathtaking visuals and settings, not to mention its wonderfully diverse and engaging characters. The acceptance of Eastern style in the Western world culminated with The Forbidden Kingdom, a picture that tells the story of an American teenager and Wuxia fan pulled through time and forced to fight in ancient China alongside Jet Li and Jackie Chan, that picture containing several elements reminiscent of and seemingly influenced by Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon.
Wudang warrior Li Mu Bai (Chow Yun-Fat, The Replacement Killers), overcome by grief and sorrow after the death of his master at the hands of the Jade Fox (Pei-pei Cheng), is ready to leave his violent past behind and finally proclaim his true love for Yu Shu Lien (Michelle Yeoh, Memoirs of a Geisha), the holder of his sword, the venerable Green Destiny. With Li Mu Bai's blessing, she entrusts the blade to Sir Te (Sihung Lung), but the weapon is stolen by the Jade Fox's apprentice, Jen (Ziyi Zhang), a confused girl hurtling towards adulthood and a life she may not want and doesn't fully understand. Arranged to be married to a prominent member of the community, Jen instead longs for her true love, an outlaw named Lo (Chen Chang). While concealing her true identity as a Wudang master -- greater even than Jade Fox -- Jen must choose her path, her friends, her enemies, and her love before she and the world around her spiral out of control.
Though known and renowned for its visuals and fight choreography -- both of which define Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon on a superficial level -- Director Ang Lee's (Hulk) picture delivers a much more profound and emotionally-satisfying experience that propels the movie to heights that its effects alone cannot achieve. A tale of honor, passion, love, discipline, and the search for meaning in both life and death, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon effortlessly meshes its thematic content with its special effects wizardry while also embracing healthy doses of excitement and humor. The result is a film that dazzles on both ends of the spectrum, achieving a balance where neither the effects nor the emotional core overwhelm the experience but instead compliment one another in a way that elevates Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon to "classic" status. The film's centerpiece theme -- that of Jen's hidden wants, needs, and abilities -- remains mysterious and unfolds with time; thereby, the story progresses at a pace that allows for its characters to become fully developed and the audience wholly immersed in their world. The action, too, merely plays into the story; for as well-staged as it may be, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon weaves it into the story rather than framing the story around the action and special effects, allowing, then, for each action scene to play as all the more meaningful, tense, and exciting.
Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon succeeds thanks to the many on- and off-screen attributes that support both the story and the special effects. The film is populated with several standout performances, its trio of lead characters played by Chow Yun-Fat, Michelle Yeoh, and Ziyi Zhang in particular effortlessly disappearing into their roles while always demonstrating a command of both the physical and emotional elements of their respective parts. Ang Lee's direction sparkles, too; his camera often remains steady and unobtrusive during expository and dialogue scenes, but it comes alive during the gorgeously choreographed action sequences. The picture feeds on the kinetic energy and Lee's camera moves about as gracefully as the combatants framed within its lens, the result a visual explosion of skill and grace that's yet to be duplicated. The camera also bears witness to exquisite period costumes and sets that spring to life in every scene, never failing to create a seamless and wholly-convincing environment, this achievement earning the film an Academy Award for Art Direction-Set Decoration. The film is also complimented by Peter Pau's (Shoot 'Em Up) Oscar-winning cinematography and Tan Dun's Oscar-winning score, each of which add the final touches to a cinematic masterpiece that defines what superb filmmaking on both sides of the camera is all about.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon Blu-ray, Video Quality
Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon's Blu-ray presentation yields a gorgeous 1080p, 2.40:1-framed transfer that appears to be the same one that accompanied the previous release that was exclusive to the three-film box set, bundled with The Curse of the Golden Flower and House of Flying Daggers. Though the film tends to take on a slightly dulled look, it nevertheless enthralls with a consistent and high-quality filmic texture. It's not quite as sharp, deep, or well-defined as something like The International, but Sony's Blu-ray release nevertheless recreates the film's intended look masterfully. Colors are never terribly vibrant save for those seen in select areas, though each hue appears consistently natural. Detail is rather good throughout; a few scenes look soft but there's never any difficulty in making out the finest of details in clothing, structures, or even the desert floor in one sequence where pebbles and sand take on a wonderfully textured and natural appearance. Black levels and flesh tones are solid, the former bold and inky and the latter consistently natural. The image retains a subtle layer of film grain that spikes on occasion but never seems at all intrusive. It might not be the most pristine, sharp, or colorful transfer on the market, but Sony's Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon represents one of the better film-like transfers yet to grace the Blu-ray format.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon leaps onto Blu-ray with a quality Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless soundtrack, again one that seems to be the same as that featured on the previous release (note the initial release is said to contain a PCM 5.1 uncompressed track on the packaging, but the disc proper is instead home to several TrueHD offerings). The track delivers a solid listen on all fronts but never truly dazzles with the presentation of its sound effects or Oscar-winning score. The track does feature nicely-realized atmospherics. The surround channels aren't consistently engaged, though the second half of the film delivers more in the way of both ambience and discrete information across the back. The sounds of battle -- the clanking of swords or the beating of hooves into a sandy, desert terrain in chapter nine during an outlaw raid -- all deliver crisp, clear, and suitably realistic and exciting effects that only enhance the visual splendor of the action scenes. A fight in chapter 12 represents the sonic highlight found on the disc; both the music and destructive results of combat spill into the soundstage with pinpoint clarity, effectively placing listeners in the midst of the action. Bass is present here and elsewhere, though it never overpowers the soundtrack. Dialogue reproduction, too, is consistently smooth and free of distortion. While not quite reference-grade material, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon's lossless soundtrack is an excellent aural companion to a breathtaking visual film.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
This latest Blu-ray release of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon contains all of the extras found on the previous release contained in the three-film box set, and it adds a commentary track with Cinematographer Peter Pau in addition to the track with Director Ang Lee and Writer/Producer James Schamus. The Lee/Schamus conversation begins with a discussion of the film's score and moves on to cover a wide selection of topics, including the film's costumes, the Fantasy influences and running themes of the film, the authenticity of the weapons, the stunt work, and plenty more. Lee and Schamus deliver a track that flows well and offers plenty of good information, all wrapped around a sense of humor that offsets the seriousness of the realities of the filmmaking process and the themes of the film.
The new commentary, featuring Peter Pau, is well-spoken and engaging. Pau begins by speaking highly of Ang Lee and the positives and pressures of working on the set with the director. He also covers plenty of information that, no surprise, focuses heavily on his work on the film. Pau discusses his lighting techniques, working with the various sets and props, Ang Lee's vision for the film, the lower-contrast style employed in the film, the use of Kodak film stock, the picture's digital effects, shooting the action scenes, the use and effects of shooting with different lenses, and much more. Pau's track is almost worth the price of admission, and all serious Crouching Tiger fans -- not to mention budding filmmakers or those interested in learning the intricacies of shooting one of the nicer looking films of the past decade -- will want to seriously consider upgrading to this release. This is certainly a welcome new addition to Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon.
Next is A Conversation with Michelle Yeoh (480p, 13:50), a piece that features the actress speaking on what sets Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon apart from other Martial Arts films. She also discusses her excitement in playing the part, her character, the themes of the film, the interaction between characters, the difficulties of shooting the Action-oriented scenes, an injury sustained on-set, and more. Unleashing the Dragon (480p, 20:47) is a fine making-of piece that features cast and crew speaking on the various aspects of the filmmaking process. Topics include the chemistry between the actors, the training the actors undertook for the roles, the themes of love in the film, the score, and more. Also included is a photo gallery set to the film's score (480p, 6:44) and BD-Live (Blu-ray profile 2.0) functionality. Also new is the selection of trailers offered on the disc; included on this version are The Curse of the Golden Flower, House of Flying Daggers, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Not the Messiah, Nine, The Young Victoria, and The Karate Kid.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon is a modern classic that's remembered first for its high-flying stunt work, but it's a picture with so much more to offer. A tale of love, uncertainty, maturation, and honor, Ang Lee's film is as thematically gripping as it is visually satisfying. Not to be outdone by the story and effects, the cast is uniformly excellent and the film's sound, editing, costuming, set decorations, and cinematography are all of an exceptional quality. It's no wonder that Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon is remembered as a benchmark film, and Sony's second Blu-ray release, like its first, does it right. It features strong picture and sound quality alongside a healthy collection of extras, this new-for-2010 edition sporting an additional commentary track with Cinematographer Peter Pau. The disc may be identified from the old one by the omission of the silver "experience high definition" logo at the bottom of the case and the addition of a "Sony Pictures Classics" banner across the top. The back of the case adds the Pau commentary in the supplemental listings and corrects the misidentified language tracks from the previous release. Highly recommended.
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Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Donnie Yen Set to Appear in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon II - April 2, 2014
Martial arts superstar Donnie Yen (Ip Man) has signed a deal to appear in acclaimed helmer Yuen Wo Ping's (Iron Monkey, The Magnificent Butcher) highly anticipated Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon II, which will be produced by The Weinstein Company.
• Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon II Coming Up - May 16, 2013
The Weinstein Company announced today that Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon II will begin production in March 2014 in Asia. Acclaimed helmer Yuen Wo Ping is set to direct. Also joining the project will be martial arts superstar Donnie Yen and Michelle Yeoh.
• Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon Blu-ray Available Now - March 29, 2010
The Ang Lee martial arts film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is now available to buy separately. Until now, it was only available in the US as part of a three-movie pack, released in July 2009, which also included The Curse of the Golden Flower and House of Flying ...
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