Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

dir. Ang Lee

TIFF Cinematheque - Retrospective

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Celebrated Taiwanese director Ang Lee brought wuxia to the West with this sweeping period swordplay epic, which won four Academy Awards and became one of the only foreign-language films to make more than $100 million at the North American box office.

Celebrated Taiwanese director Ang Lee brought wuxia to the West with this sweeping period swordplay epic, which won four Academy Awards and became one of the only foreign-language films to make more than $100 million at the North American box office. When a rebellious teenaged heroine (Zhang Ziyi, in her star-making role) steals the legendary jade sword of martial-arts master Li Mu Bai (Chow Yun Fat) from his warrior friend Yu Shu Lien (Michelle Yeoh), she sets off a breathlessly paced pursuit entailing magnificent chases over rooftops, lakes and trees. Paying homage to wuxia master King Hu — Zhang's Jen evokes Hu's heroine Golden Swallow in his breakout hit Come Drink With Me, while the spectacular final battle atop the swaying branches of a bamboo forest references the conclusion of Hu's classic A Touch of Zen — Lee created a fusion of martial arts and art house that would prove immensely influential on his fellow Chinese art-filmmakers. Fifth Generation master Zhang Yimou would soon after enter the big-budget martial-arts field with Hero and House of Flying Daggers, Chen Kaige followed with The Promise, while Wong Kar-wai, Jia Zhangke and Hou Hsiao-hsien are prepping their own upcoming martial-arts films.