Starring: Zhang Ziyi, Michelle Yeoh, Chow Yun-Fat, Chang Chen, Cheng Pei-pei
Director: Ang Lee
Summary: Two warriors in pursuit of a stolen sword and a notorious fugitive are led to an impetuous, physically skilled, adolescent nobleman’s daughter, who is at a crossroads in her life
Other Nominations: Director, Adapted Screenplay, Foreign Language Film*, Original Score*, Original Song (“A Love Before Time”), Art Direction*, Cinematography*, Costume Design, Film Editing
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is mainly remembered for its action, which has a magical quality (through both the wire work and speeding up/slowing down footage) that was totally original for Western audiences and has the actual actors were doing the work instead of stuntmen. Besides just the action, the visuals in general are excellent from the costumes to the cinematography.
The thing that holds this back from being truly great is that the story and characters are merely serviceable (even if I liked Yeoh’s and Ziyi’s performances a lot). This wouldn’t be as big an issue in a different kind of action film, but the film really does focus on them more than a lot of the genre does. The story of personal growth from Ziyi’s character works really well, but the middle of the film dies a death when we get an extended flashback focusing on the romance between Ziyi and Chen’s characters that didn’t do anything for me. I think it either needed to have more action (the primary appeal of the movie), or it needed to be trimmed down quite a bit in the middle. Still, I liked the movie, it felt different for someone who’s really only used to Western action movies and is the kind of movie you don’t see the Academy reward often enough.