Pros: Surpasses even McFarlane Toys' ability to craft a female action figure
Cons: Soft pvc is prone to cracking
Let me start this review by pointing out two things: first of all, the character's name is "Yu Shu Lien," at least according to the figure's packaging and the movie's subtitles; secondly, these figures were released by Art Asylum, not Play Along Toys. Fix this, epinions!
"To repress one's feelings only makes them stronger."
The most empowering female action character in decades, Yu Shu Lien is an honorable and talented warrior charged with finding the missing sword "Green Destiny." Along the way, she falls in love and kicks some ass, not necessarily in that order.
Those of you who've read my review of McFarlane Toys' Lotus figure (http://www.epinions.com/content_46732578436) will recall that I was quite unhappy with the way that figure turned out, for reasons whose details I go into great detail about in that review. The first thing I said about the Yu Shu Lien figure, less then two minutes after removing her from her packaging, was "this is what Lotus should've been."
Rather than figures stuck in a static pose, Brooklyn-based Art Asylum wanted their Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon figures to capture the frenetic energy of their on-screen counterparts. To that end, each of the figures has tons of articulation, allowing you to recreate almost any pose you wish.
Lien moves at the neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, waist, hips, knees, and ankles. In addition to the standard type of joints one would expect to find on an action figure, Art Asylum also creatively employed ball-and-socket joints in new places, such as the head and ankles. What does this mean? Well, you can not only turn the figure's head side to side, but also move it up and down, or even tilt it to the side a bit. And the joints in her ankles mean that her feet can rest flat on the ground, giving even the wildest of poses a more sturdy base.
Speaking of bases, each of the CTHD figures is available with an ornate diorama base (they are also sold without these bases, but those versions are harder to find, and the bases really are worth the few extra dollars). Lien comes with Sir Te's study, measuring 9" tall, 6" wide and 5" deep. It features a slate floor and a thick table set against a decoratively paneled wall. A pedestal rests upon the table, cradling the case that contains the mystical Green Destiny sword.
The sword itself is ornately detailed, with the appropriate green etching along the length of the blade and two yellow braids hanging from its hilt. A scabbard in which you can actually sheathe the Green Destiny is also included, and fits inside the case. This is the only set to include Green Destiny, so if you want a recreation of that particular prop, Yu Shu Lien is your choice (she also comes with another, curved, sword).
Another feature employed to increase the playability of this figure is the inclusion of multiple hands. Lien's hands pull out at the wrist, and can be swapped with the second set included in the package: two hands that are open and flat, as if to deliver a chop; a right hand designed to hold a sword; and a left hand with the fore and middle finger extended, so you can duplicate her flying pose.
This figure not only moves just like the character on the screen, but the likeness is dead-on, too; Lien is wearing her purple and lavender gi, and several pieces of the costume have been molded from soft pvc to simulate cloth--the billowy sleeves, the bottom of her tunic, and her ankle wraps all bend and flex with the movement of the figure. The only problem with this is that the material can get dried out and crack, and could deteriorate in the long run. However, I prefer the pvc to actual cloth; cloth does not hang properly on a figure, while plastic can be molded to look appropriate.
Now that RealScan is readily available to action figure companies, facial sculpts aren't as tricky as they used to be. While I don't know if Art Asylum used the technology to create their figures (I can't imagine the actors being available for a scanning session), the likeness is stunning--Yu Shu Lien looks exactly like Michelle Yeoh, from bone structure to the expression on her face.
A lot of effort was put into the creation of these figures, and it shows through. This figure is truly a miniature, three-dimensional representation of the character seen on film, and just a fun toy to play with.