crouching tiger, hidden dragon -- the emporer's new movie

I just hate the way everyone oohs and aahs over the “brilliant choreography” of the fight scenes. (“Just like ballet!”)

There’s plenty of martial arts films with much better fight sequences – they just weren’t hyped the way “crouching tiger” was.

The plot was weak, and the acting, flat, except for Michelle Yeoh who does a reasonable job.

Yes the scenery is pretty and yes the film has a feminist bent - big effing deal.

It seems that every so often a movie comes out that is mediocre, but catches on, and everyone fools themself into thinking that it’s great.

The emporer’s new movie.

Just like The Matrix!

Just like The Matrix!

Just like The Matrix!

Just like The Matrix!

(Say it with me…)


Let me take a few pot shots as well.

The first fifteen minutes are excrutiatingly boring.
They’re trying to intro the characters and get the plot going but it’s done at a snail’s pace.

Then, the first three fight scenes take place IN THE DARK!!
I don’t know if the film was terribly over-hyped or simply over-rated but every Jackie Chan film I’ve seen contains much more creative and elaborate and genuinely fun-to-watch fight sequences.

Lastly, I know I wasn’t the only one who was seriously thinking about walking out on this movie. Felt I had to see how it ends only to find out that the ending was just as stupid as the preceding 90 minutes. Ugh…

In response to The Matrix post:

If you think The Matrix is bad (the philosophical aspects sort of interest me, but the movie gets old) try going to a party where most of the people watched the movie and tried to analyze every single point of it (mentioning Sophie’s World and Alice in Wonderland every five minutes). I left pretty soon. But then it wasn’t your normal party. It was a Scholar Bowl party.

This sentiment is totally out of place in the Pit, but perhaps CTHD will turn more people on to Kung Fu as a genre, and they’ll realize how many other movies have fight scenes choreographed like ballet and gorgeous scenery.

"The first fifteen minutes are excrutiatingly boring.
They’re trying to intro the characters and get the plot going but it’s done at a snail’s pace. "

Sorry to say, many asian movies are like that. They sloooowly develop the film. Too slow for many people’s taste, it seems.

Interesting and unexpected opinion, that.

The vast majority of Asians I’ve known have cinematic attention-spans far shorter than most Americans I know. Most (and they were all college-educated, for what that’s worth) had a strong preference for those “you have offended my ancestors, now you must die” low-budget Kung Fu smash-em-ups with five-minute-long scenes of nothing but guys tediously flailing at each other and blocking each other’s strikes (replete with sound f/x of two blocks of wood clapping).

Two of those former college classmates even thought the Indiana Jones movies were sluggish and listless. You can imagine how they reacted when the rest of the group wanted to watch “The Brother From Another Planet.”

Well, I have an interesting opinion for y’all. Ready? OK. Here goes: All Kung-Fu movies are fuckin stupid.


I will now go back to watching real films, like The Matrix.

Yeah I know what you mean. I went to see it w/ my parents Wednesday night…and when we came out, we had absolutely no idea what to say to each other at first. Well, I didn’t- I thought I had missed something big, that I just didn’t “get” it.

Though I really don’t think there was anything to get. Mebbe its just me, though…the flying and fighting got old fast. The ones in the dark looked cool but it did get dull fast. What can I say? I don’t think it deserved an Oscar. Too mediocre.

For such an “overhyped” movie, I’m surprised it has so few defenders so far. So I guess I’ll step up. I liked it. A lot. I liked watching a martial arts movie that had actual characters, complete with emotions, histories, and personalities. I liked that the actors could keep the film watchable when they weren’t doing hand-stands and jump-kicks. I liked that Ang Lee had the guts not only to avoid a happy ending, but to have an actual gasp ambiguous ending! My God, a movie that doesn’t have to spell out to the audience exactly whats going on and how they’re expected to react? But that might make the audience actually think for a change! I liked that a movie made on the other side of the planet in a foreign language was actually the favorite for the Best Picture Oscar (I do NOT like the fact that the dickwits in the academy thought that Gladiator was even worth nominating, much less winning, but this is pretty much par for the course for the Oscars.) I liked the soundtrack, the cinematography, and the design. Yes, there are better fight scenes out there. So what? The ones in CTHD were still pretty good, and (in a refreshing change) so was the rest of the movie, too. Most kung-fu movies are thirty minutes of good fights and sixty minutes of bad dialogue and idiot plots. CTHD is the one chop socky movie I might actually fast forward through the fight scenes to get to the plot.

That’s all I have to say about the movie, but since this is the pit, let me add a gratuitous flame. Autumn Wind Chick: Just cause you can’t figure this movie out doesn’t mean I’m an idiot. In fact, the evidence seems to indicate that it might be the other way around.

Allow me to disagree.

I can’t provide a cite, I don’t remember where I read this, but there was a very interesting comparison.

“CTHD” does for kung-fu movies what “2001” did for sci-fi and “The Godfather” did for gangster flicks, i.e. makes a work of art in a genre previously thought silly and undeserving of respect.

Without boring y’all with the details (I hyped this film to exhaustion in other threads), I found CTHD wonderful; it’s my favourite movie of the year, in fact. On the other hand, I found “Gladiator” to be little more than a popcorn movie. To each their own.


Brilliant, gorgeous, fantastic. CTHD is the best pure cinema experience I’ve had in at least ten years: stunning cinematography, three beautiful performances (Michelle Yeoh was also my favorite, but I also loved Chow Yun Fat and the younger-actress-whose-name-I-can’t-remember), an evocative plot and the best ending of any film in years.

Of course the first fight scenes take place at night - it’s all the more enthralling. Whassa matta, you need your glasses adjusted?

I’m not surprised that it didn’t do as well at home as abroad. The director, Ang Lee, has brought a sensibility that carried quite well for Jane Austen; it necessitated major changes to the typical kung-fu movie.

Isn’t there anyone who appreciates restraint? Who’s willing to invest time to watch intimate character dynamic emerge?

Here’s a dollar, go buy yourself an attention span. Once you have it, go see Ran.

xtnjohnson: Zhang Ziyi

I saw Ran.
This ain’t Ran. Ain’t even close.

It sucks. The only worse picture I’ve seen in the last two years is “The Messenger”, and that’s a pretty close call, lemme tell you.
Like “The Messenger”, it’s pretentious, slow, horrifically acted, and makes you wonder at the sanity of the main characters, rather than building up your empathy with them so that you actually care what happens to them at the end.

I was in Pasadena, CA on vacation when my mom decided it would be neat to go see this movie that everyone was talking about except the papers (this was last December). We arrived early to find the line around the block - looked like Empire Strikes Back when it first came out - so we skipped it that time.

My brother and I saw it a week later in Santa Barbara in a nice theater (doubles as an operahouse) and I have to say, I really enjoyed it **for what it is ** - a martial arts movie with an interesting plot.

Bro and I both exited with the same feeling - nice use of the special effects, a plot line worth following, but it’s a damn good thing mom didn’t see it because she just wouldn’t have gotten past the violence. She doesn’t appreciate special effects or the way they work (or not) within a flick.

I think that was about when the snowball started, after that I saw all sorts of hype about the movie in the major media. But, up until that point, it was all word-of-mouth. I probably wouldn’t have seen it if the hype was all I had to go on.

Not quite, I think, what you meant by this, but who else was happy that Li Mu Bai and Shu Lien didn’t have wild monkey sex? It was downright fucking refreshing to watch an emotional dynamic between a female and male lead that wasn’t “this is how we achieve, and react to, having sex.”

As for the rest, well, I loved it. It’s a fairy tale with beautiful cinematography. Pulp Fiction sure as hell wasn’t documentary-real, but it hit on very American (maybe Western) fairy-tale tropes, while completely fucking with gunplay-movie traditions. So the Pulp Fiction meme set, while new, fit right in with the way my mind was arranged.

I was surprised by Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon the first time I saw it, because it wasn’t what I was expecting when I heard tell of characterization and story. It was drawing on storytelling styles I wasn’t used to (but which, I gather, are familiar Asian, or at least Chinese, tropes). Once I realized that, I adjusted (get thee behind me, preconceived notions!), and was captivated.

Eh, this has the ring of pretentious bullshit as I read it over, but I swear that’s where my head was at, and my affectation filters have been shot through with alcohol. :slight_smile: Upshot: I absolutely fucking loved CT,HD once I got used to it.

OOC, what tropes are you referring to? Personally, I didn’t see any notable difference between CT, HD and other movies, but then I’ve been watching Chinese movies for so long that I think I pretty much gloss over what differences are there.

For example, when Jen’s wrecking shop on everyone and his brother in the restaurant, and delivering a soliloquy at the same time. Or the blatantly ballet-like rooftop skipping. An American movie, I think, would have handled both those things differently. Jen would maybe deliver one-liners before she dispatched people all cool-like. The rooftop flying would be handled so as to look more “realistic.”

Again, I should note that I am a student neither of Asian culture nor cinema, and am largely ignorant of both; I have only my impressions and the odd Entertainment Weekly article to draw on here.

FWIW, I’m in the ‘pro’ camp.

I thought it was a pretty good movie, albiet not great. It wasn’t any better than “Gladiator.”

I didn’t mind the slow start; I like being given time to see the sets and the backgrounds, and I thought the acting was pretty decent. I also didn’t mind the “Asian” aspects - the flying, or the lengthy dialogue. But I was frankly really disappointed that there wasn’t more ass kicking. I went in thinking there was going to be truly copious amounts of heavily kicked asses, asses kicked by the thousands, but instead there were some decent fights at the beginning, the terrific swordfight, and a few other little fights, plus the “Invincible Sword Goddess” scene which frankly wasn’t all that great. The first fight between the police detective (whose role frankly wasn’t well incorporated into the film) and Jade Fox wasn’t very good at all.

The sword fight was just spectacular, but I wanted far more asses kicked. They didn’t really show enough ass kicking in the “Invincible Sword Goddess” scene - it was too quick and confused - so the movie had a dearth of hard-kicked asses. For instance, in the desert scene, I wanted to see Zhang Ziyi kick fifty or sixty asses. Instead she only kicked three. We never get to see Chow Yun-Fat kick a whole lot of ass, which is dreadfully disappointing because kicking people’s asses is what Chow Yun-Fat does best. And I certainly could have stood to see Michelle Yeoh kick a few more asses, too.

My other objection was that, frankly, I didn’t think the plot was all that fabulous or the characters particularly appealing. The two characters I DID want to know about, Michelle Yeoh and Chow-Yun-Fat’s characters, were underused, while Zhang Ziyi’s character doesn’t act rationally throughout the film.

It was still pretty good though, and certainly a whole pile better than The Matrix.