Ang Lee’s “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” was released in the U.S. In 2000. It was Hollywood’s introduction to “wuxia” films and was a critical and box office smash. It went on to win numerous awards including four academy awards among which was the trophy for “Best Foreign Language Film.” The film stars some greats from Chinese (and some American) cinema like Chow Yun Fat, Michelle Yeoh, Zhang Ziyi, and Chang Chen. It opened the door for other similar films like “House of Flying Daggers” and “Hero” to find an audience in the U.S., but none have been able to reach the levels of CTHD in the states. So does this Chinese martial arts picture deserve to be considered among the all time greats?
Should this film be considered a classic? CTHD has all the elements of a great film. It has a wonderful story with romance and intrigue. It has incredible cinematography from some amazing Chinese locales. It has fight scenes that are fast, fluid, beautiful and that mesh perfectly with the soundtrack. The acting, even though all the dialog is in Mandarin, is strong and effective. This film is a great choice to represent the best of Chinese cinema in recent years and easily stands with other great films in terms of its universal story and stunning visuals. So yes, I think it should be considered a classic. Even though it is only eleven years removed from its release, it has the kind of story and emotional impact as to make it a favorite for many generations of film aficionados.
Would I own this film? I bought this film on DVD and again when it came out on Blu-Ray. I saw this movie on the big screen when I was a Jr. in high school. I remember reading glowing reviews and thought it would be a neat film to see. There was only one other person in the theater when I watched it, but it was well worth it. CTHD introduced me a beautiful style of film and has remained one of my favorite films of the 2000s. It was also the first foreign language film I had ever seen and started an interest in foreign cinema which has allowed me to see many great films from outside the U.S. (and U.K.). If you have not seen this movie and enjoy a great story in a gorgeous setting then you need to go and pick up this film. You just might find yourself hooked. If you do, be sure to check out “Hero,” “House of Flying Daggers,” and “Red Cliff.”