Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, 2000.
Directed by Ang Lee
Starring Chow Yun-Fat, Michelle Yeoh, Chen Chang, Sihung Lung, Cheng Pei Pei, Ziyi Zhang
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon has been on Blu-ray before, but this new release serves up some deleted scenes and a new series of retrospective interviews with director Ang Lee, writer/producer James Schamus, and editor Tim Squyres. This disc doesn’t include everything from the previous Blu-ray release, so you may want to hang onto your old copy.
I remember seeing Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon with a friend in the theater in 2000 and being blown away by what unspooled on the big screen in front of us. In the hands of a lesser director, a movie that features acrobatic sword battles in which the combatants fly through the air might come across as hokey, but Ang Lee strikes the right balance of wonder and hard-edged realism.
If you’ve never seen this movie, this Blu-ray is worth a blind buy, since Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is worth repeat viewings and this disc has a healthy portion of bonus features. Set in the late 18th century, the story involves Li Mu Bai (Chow Yun-Fat), a Wudang warrior who, in a grief-stricken state, decides to renounce violence after his master is killed by the notorious Jade Fox.
Mu Bai proclaims his love for Yu Shu Lien (Michelle Yeoh) and entrusts her with his sword, known as Green Destiny. Shu Lien is supposed to give the sword to Sir Te (Sihung Lung), but it’s stolen by Jen (Ziyi Zhang), Jade Fox’s pupil. Jen is expected to enter into an arranged marriage but she wants to live a life of adventure. The plot soon kicks into high gear as Mu Bai and Shu Lien try to recover the sword.
This Blu-ray ports over most of the bonus features found on previous discs, including the original 19-minute making-of featurette from the DVD and a commentary track with Lee and writer/producer James Schamus, who does a good job of leading his counterpart through a conversation about the film. A second commentary with cinematographer Peter Pau digs into the technical aspects of the look and feel of the movie, and a 13-minute interview with Michelle Yeoh and a photo gallery round out the legacy bonus materials.
However, the 20-minute Unleashing the Dragon making-of featurette that was on the original DVD and ported over to the previous Blu-ray isn’t included here, which is a shame. You may want to hang on to the earlier release.
The new materials include seven minutes of deleted scenes that provide an interesting supplement to the story. However, it’s easy to see why Lee dropped those moments, since the movie feels just right at two hours. The other major new bonus feature is an 81-minute series of interviews with Lee, Schamus, and editor Tim Squyres. They’re conducted by Tasha R. Robinson, a film journalist who’s also steeped in Lee’s film catalog.
The “A Love Before Time” music video in English and Mandarin, along with the theatrical trailer, round out this disc, which is highly recommended. There’s also a code for a digital copy of the movie.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★