Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (VHS, 2001, English Dubbed) Reviews
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Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (VHS, 2001, English Dubbed)

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Theme Analysis & Sequel Spoiler

Mar 23, 2001 (Updated Jun 15, 2001)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Great all around movie, one of the best

Cons:Not a pure action movie, will require you to think

The Bottom Line: I address some of the movie's issues and why the minority who dislike CTHD, do so with such contempt.


I will address some of the issues of why I love this movie and why some people who dislike this movie, do so with such contempt. This is not so much a review, since many good reviews exist for CTHD, it's more of a brief analysis of CTHD themes.

This is one of the best movies I've seen.
Of course, I'm being subjective about it but let me tell you why.

Jen. (Translated in ancient Chinese Character as Dragon, Lo as Tiger.)
Some have simplified her character by calling her a spoiled brat who steals a sword. By paying attention to the details, a deeper, more complex character emerges. In the first scene with Jen, she is wearing a very traditional, formal Chinese outfit. It's confining, she can barely move. Her make up is perfectly painted on and her hair is rigidly bound in an arrangement. But her eyes are fanciful, curious, and slightly mischievous. She is engaged to be married to a man her family has chosen. She embodies, for many women and me, the daughter who is obligated to family and imprisoned by limited social roles.

She regards Shu Lien (Yeoh) as being free. Later in the movie, Shu Lien explains to Jen that she is not free, but also bound by social rules that keep her from being with Mubai (Fat).

Jen rebels, or has been rebelling as we find out. She has learned the ancient art of Wuxia and had runaway in the desert with the bandit, Lo. However, sheís returned to her family and plans to marry. Yet, when she has a chance, she steals Mubaiís sword, mostly for fun and to feel like the warriors she admires.

Jen has become a competent fighter but her youthfulness steers her to selfishness. Sheís an angry, young woman with powers that surpass most menís. She is the character whom we like to see acting foolish and rash and at first she is somewhat justified by her situation. She eventually goes too far though, running away from her family and beating up men at a tavern. She is not restrained anymore except she does not kill anyone.

Light & Dark
This is not a good vs. evil movie in the obvious sense. I have read complaints that the antagonist is a weak, old woman. There is Jade Fox who can be considered the antagoinst. She killed MuBaiís master long ago, but she is not evil just for the sake of it. She sought revenge for not gaining equal access to the all-male Wuxia temple. Jade Fox has become a bitter, cold, and murderous woman symbolizing what Jen could become without the proper guidance. However, Fox is not central for the main characters to develop.

CTHD is more about internal struggles of light and dark. Mubai wants to give up his warrior days not only for a peaceful life, but because heís seen a darkness inside him, while meditating. I donít know much about Chinese philosophy so I wonít get into this. Jen also is conflicted by morals, never killing anyone but striking Shu Lien with the sword after Shu Lien had won the fight between them. In the end, Jenís behavior does cause the unnecessary death of Mubai.

I have also read that if Mubai was such a great warrior then why did he die. My theories are: He was not only protecting himself, but also Jen whom a dying Jade Fox reveals she wanted to kill. Plus Mubai had just ďhealedĒ the drugged up Jen, intaking some of the effects, dulling his senses.

The Ending.
Why does she jump? Itís the type of ending open to interpretation and probably disappointing to the happy ending, Pretty Woman sect. My view is that Jen had done too much. She had caused the death of the great warrior, Mubai, killed her ďsisterísĒ love, and disgraced her family. She had gone too far to return to a normal life and to feel love like an innocent person. Was her most moral act of the movie to jump? SPOILER (http://www.geocities.com/zu100/cthd.htm) Remember Loís wish and the story of the boy jumping? In the sequel, Loís wish comes true. He and Jen are reunited in the desert and have a child who is switched at birth. The sequel is about their child looking for his parents. An aging Shu Lien is also involved and I could go on about what happens, but not now. And yes, Ang Lee has reportedly agreed to do the prequel about Mubai, Shu Lien and her fiancťe.

The Flying.
This irks me when people complain about the flying. They say itís too unrealistic, too much like Peter Pan. What would movies be like without imagination, without seeing people do those things we only dream about. How boring! I love CTHD even more because of the flying. CTHD is a fairytale, itís mesmerizing and awe inspiring. The scene in the trees is beautiful, a daring dance between pupil and teacher. She wildly tries to shake him off, he calmly and merrily balances of the branches.

Partly, I think that itís Americaís view that other cultures are inferior including the way of telling a story. No one complained that Sixth Sense had ghosts, I havenít seen any ghosts around. How about the Ark in Indiana Jones spewing laser beams? Donít get me wrong, I like both these movies, but how are these more realistic than CTHD? No one complained! Could it be a simple matter of racism and/or cultural ignorance?


Subtitles.
I am happy this movie is in Mandarin, it gives it an even more mystical, fantastic feel.





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