Friday, September 14, 2012

Hooray for UnHollywood: "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" (2000)

Ang Lee and the gang were robbed at the Oscars by the lumbering "Gladiator," a film which seemed to be the result of a studio meeting where the question was posed "what genre could we update with blood and guts?"

Thank God this was not made in Hollywood. The entire cast is excellent without having to resort to some white guy moseying on the set to find the missing sword. In the hands of others, this could have been another "The Golden Child," or a Pauly Shore vehicle ("Crouching Tiger, Hidden Wea-sel," anyone?). Instead, we get an actual plot, full of characterization, long flashbacks, and a story that moves.

Those seeking nonstop action scenes were probably disappointed (like Bruce Lee's films never get slow?), but the film makers should be applauded for sticking to their guns and telling a story without overwhelming it with constant action set pieces that do nothing but stop the plot and employ a herd of stunt people, like any Pierce Brosnan 007 film. The sword fights here will go down in cinematic history as some of the greatest, the ballet-like rooftop chase scenes were wonderful to behold, and the ending that I did not see coming (or maybe did not want to see coming) left me shaken.

I strongly recommend "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon." (* * * * *) out of five stars.