Friday Film : Rehna Recommends – Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

It was when I heard two young shelf stackers in Sainsburys raving about the film, the first subtitled film, I heard them say ,they had ever seen, I knew that crouching tiger, Hidden dragon was going to be an international phenomenon.

I’ve always loved films that transport me to another world so believable I wish I could go live there. Crouching tiger, hidden dragon does this and then some. There is ancient China, which may or may not have existed as depicted but it goes beyond this, to also bring to life a mystical, magical , otherworldly China which can only exist in the technicolour imagination.

Directed by Ang Lee after his beautifully beguiling version of Sense and sensibility, this sumptuous fantasy took home the Oscar for best International feature  in 2001.  It could easily have won Best Picture. The film also won Best foreign film at the BAFTAs and the Golden Globes.

On a budget of $17 million, the film grossed $213 million worldwide. It was a critical and commercial behemoth and brought celebrated Chinese actor Chow Yun Fat to the attention of mainstream western audiences. The film also gave actresses Michelle Yeoh and newcomer Zheng Ziyi a foothold in Hollywood (both went on to star in Memoirs of a Geisha).

Crouching tiger, Hidden dragon is folklore, fairytale, romance, martial arts adventure and surprisingly tender and romantic drama rolled into one magnificent, spellbinding, visually breathtaking spectacle. It really is cinema that is a treat for the senses.

Story : In China of the 1800s, master warriors (Chow Yun Fat and Michelle Yeoh) face a great challenge when the treasured Green Destiny sword is stolen.

When the young daughter (Zhang Ziyi) of the governor reveals superb fighting talents, she is trained by Master Li to take on her most perilous task to recover it. The epic fight scenes (including a jaw dropping one on the branches of bamboo trees) and balletic martial arts displays are exquisitely set against a backdrop of forbidden love for both the young governor’s daughter and her lover and the tradition bound older master warriors. With grace and subtlety the film touches upon the role of women in that traditional society and the challenges of living in accordance with the wishes of your heart

If you like your cinema epic, your action sequences imaginative and jaw dropping, your romance with soul, female characters  spirited and graceful in a seamless blend of exquisite femininity and male leads masterful yet gentle, then this gorgeous film is for you.

Highly recommended.