Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)

Directed by Ang Lee
Written by James Schamus, Kuo Jung Tsai & Hui-Ling Wang, based on the book by Du Lu Wang
Starring Chow Yun Fat, Michelle Yeoh, Zhang Ziyi, Chang Chen, Pei-pei Cheng


Anamorphic: Yes

My Advice: Own It.

Li Mu Bai (Yun Fat) is tired of the warrior lifestyle. He's been pining for sometime over his best friend, Shu Lien (Yeoh), and he figures that surrendering up the Green Destiny, the legendary and ancient sword he has used during his adventures, he can move on with his life. Unfortunately, after Shu Lien takes the sword to their friend, Sir Te (Sihung Lung), the sword is stolen. To make matters worse, Jade Fox, the assassin of Li Mu Bai's master, may have been seen in the area. What was originally a way to leave violence behind draws himself and others into an even deeper conflict than anyone could have anticipated.

This is an entertaining DVD release to accompany the film itself, and it's nice to see that it got a fair treatment. Sure, you can always wish for more in the way of features. But when the Ang Lee/James Schamus commentary begins with the two men introducing themselves, and Lee says that he's the director of "this crazy movie," you know you're in for a good time. And you get one. The commentary stays entertaining throughout, both men going back and forth in the banter of good friends and co-workers, but they manage to do all this and keep to the subject at hand as well: providing good insight into the making of the film. They do this primarily because Schamus is there to ask the questions of Lee that we would in his place. If anything needs to be said about the commentary track, it's that one featuring the cast might have been nice--but hey, if they get back together to do a prequel as has been discussed, maybe they'll find the time for the Mammoth Edition of the DVD.

As far as the rest of the disc goes, the making-of bit from Bravo is a better-than-average entry into what can usually be boring as watching cacti grow. Behind-the-scenes bits, coupled with comments from Schamus, Lee, Yun Fat, Yeoh and others, make for something worth spending some time on. More interesting is the "conversation" with Yeoh (which is rather, Yeoh just talking, more monologue than convo) in which she addresses such questions as when do you get too old to do action films, and how do you come to the conclusion that you should spend two years working on a film like Crouching Tiger?

Otherwise, a slight nit is that the introduction to the disc, as well as the transitions between menus, can get old when you've put it in a few times and you just want to get on with things. Regular readers know that I'm usually not too keen on putting a lot of time into menus and such. Also, it would have been nice to have had a feature that showed the fight scenes from storyboard to final version, with all the digital wizardry in between. But ah well. It's a good disc and if you love the movie, definitely worth buying.

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Buy the book about the film from Amazon!

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