Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon” was released in 2000. It is a film made in the wuxia style (the derivative of martial and chivalric arts).
“Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon” was directed by Ang Lee, with the participation of international cast of ethnic Chinese actors, such as Chang Chen, Michelle Yeoh, Chow Yun-Fat, and Zhang Ziyi. This is an interesting experimentation made by veteran filmmakers, Ang Lee and James Schamus. The movie is based on the 4th novel in the well-known Chinese Crane-Iron Pentalogy written by Wang Dulu. The action sequences and martial arts scenes were choreographed by Yuen Wo Ping. The movie was so successful that it became a highest-grossing foreign-language film in the U.S.
history. “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon” won several awards, like the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and was nominated for Best Picture Academy Award. However, this film is interesting not only because of its international success, but also because of its quite unusual style, and the environment it takes place in. Taking into account the time frame of the film, we can see that the film demonstrates simultaneously globalizing and localizing tendencies of the mass culture. Both in its geographical, narrative and visual content, “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon” is a resolutely Chinese local movie. As it was already mentioned, the movie is based on a pre-World II novel, and shows the live and the underworld of the heroes and bandits during the Qing dynasty (1644-1911).
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The geographical context directly relates to the movie’s plot and theme, as the movie tells the story of two martial artists, who need to get back the sword, which was stolen by a rebellious young woman. To a certain extent, the plot of the film is based around the tension between the main characters Taoist aspiration to follow the only righteous and correct way and their Confucian feeling of obligation to the other people.
The geographic setting used in the film, such as the Taklamakan Plateau north of Tibet, the Gobi Desert, the bamboo forests of Anji in the south of the country, the Uigur-speaking city of Urumqi in the far west, and the imperial city of Chengde in the North were selected obviously to made the impression on the viewers and to bring the ancient Chinese times to life. Thoughtfully chosen decor and sumptuously detailed period costumes make the viewer to feel the ancient China. Chinese dialect, Mandarin, which is used in the movie, matches the visual texture and adds additional charm to the film. The landscape is very beautiful and well presented. The human constructed landscape is also stunningly beautiful and, being carefully constructed, affects the mood of the film. All these traditionally Chinese road types, whimsical architectural styles, amazing Chinese furniture, and traditionally Chinese building materials used for decorations affect the viewers’ perceptions and make them feel the unique traditionally Chinese style.
The clothing styles and colors, ancient Chinese shops and crowded markets, tell a lot about the culture of that time. Although one might tell that ancient China is an alien historical fantasy landscape to the Westerners because the Westerners know nothing about Chinese history and mythology, this movie was, obviously, made to refute this claim. All details and landscapes used in the movie reveal the mystery of the ancient Chinese times, and make the story highlighted in the film, a romantic adventure, leaving the viewers breathless with astonishment at what they are seeing on the screen. The characters in the “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon”, two martial artists and the rebellious aristocratic young woman, interact with each other within the context of their culture, representing the unique Chinese style. The movie shows the amazing simplistic Giang Hu world with its complex characters, whose actions evolve from the tension between the demands, the environment, where they live, places upon them, and their needs as human beings. Li Mu Bai, the famous swordsman in China understands that the years he spent striving for enlightenment and fighting outlaws didn’t bring him happiness.
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As this occurs, he decides to renounce his life as a warrior and wants to find happiness with his friend Shu Lien. Li Mu Bai decides to commit to the custody of his friend Sir Te, the legendary Green Destiny sword and wants to offer Shu Lien to marry him. However, everything is ruined with the appearance of old foe Jade Fox, who murdered Li Mu Bais master and stole the manual of Wudan’s techniques. Jade Fox becomes the governess of Yu Jen, the daughter of a Chinese government official. Yu Jen longs for any escape, as she is slated for a political marriage with the person she doesn’t love. As the movie runs, it reveals that she is a martial arts prodigy of great potential, and Li Mu Bai, who wants revenge upon Jade Fox, takes Jen as disciple.
All interactions of the characters in the film embody the complementary and contradictory principles of yin and yang in Buddhist and Taoist symbolism, making the movie an unforgettable emotional experience. “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon” focuses the viewers attention on the interaction of opposing forces, and contrasts between the restraints, duty, loss, regret, and the consequences of impetuously pursuing one’s desires. The ambiguities of maturity balance the naive certainty of youth, the mid-life conflict within Li Mu Bai juxtaposed against Jen’s coming of age make “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon” a really interesting and exciting movie..