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Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Wo hu zang long) (2000)
WARNING - SPOILERS BELOW.
Li Mu Bai (Chow Yun-Fat) is at a crossroads in his life. He is tired of being a warrior. Tired of the constant traveling and the violence. He comes home to the welcome arms of his good friend, Yu Shu Lien (Michelle Yeoh). She too is a warrior, but has remained at home running her father's security company. Li Mu Bai confides in her that he is ready to give it all up and settle down; he begs of her to take his infamous sword off of his hands. She reluctantly agrees and takes the sword into Peking.
While in Peking, Yu Shu Lien befriends a young girl named Jen Yu (Zhang Ziyi). Jen Yu, the daughter of a Governor, is trying to find herself. She's confused and rebellious. She admires the life of Yu Shu Lien, a life where one can marry whomever they wish to, a luxury that Jen Yu doesn't have and desperately wants.
While in Peking, the sword is stolen and Yu Shu Lien meets up with an unknown warrior. One who fights in the way that Li Mu Bai does, but it's not him. Speculation begins that it is the infamous Jade Fox, a female bandit and assassin, who creates chaos where ever she goes. Li Mu Bai arrives and they all travel on their own journeys. Li Mu Bai seeks to reclaim his sword, find Jade Fox and learn more about this mysterious warrior who stole his sword. Yu Shu Lien sets out to be with her one true love, Li Mu Bai, and to provide guidance for the rebellious Jen Yu. And finally, Jen Yu sets out to find herself and be her own woman.
This is not your typical Martial Arts film. It's more than just kick butt fight scenes.
It's a love story and a coming of age story.
What impressed me the most was the choreography. The fights scenes were like watching performance art. Each kick and hit was punctuated with a pounding beat. It was like watching a beautiful dance. It was phenomenal and I was mesmerized. I've never been so drawn in like that before.
This is a beautiful movie. Beautifully told and made. Peking and its surrounding areas are breathtaking. ZiYi Zhang is gripping as she accurately depicts a young woman struggling with becoming her own woman. Chow Yun-Fat is almost hidden in the background as a quiet, but fierce warrior; and finally, Michelle Yeoh's Yu Shu Lien is a sad and reserved woman, yet she can summon the strength of 10 men in order to save the love of her life.
Don't let the fact that it's subtitled scare you off. It takes about 10 minutes to get used to that, and then everything is a breeze.
The title of this movie says it all. You could search long and hard and not find a more magnificent dragon. It will catch you when you aren't expecting it and pounce on you like a tiger.
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