Explain the end of "Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon" to me.

I showed the wife CTHD the other night, though I didn’t enjoy it as much as when it first came out. I just can’t dig the pacing of it, and there were a few other narrative quirks that are probably completely standard for Chinese cinephiles.

But I’m not here to rant, I’m here to ask about the ending. (Spoilers, obviously!)

After Li Mu Bai is killed, Shu Lien spares Jen and sends her to visit Lo at Wudan Mountain. They happily reunite, make love, etc. Then, the next morning, Lo finds Jen standing on the bridge over a big gorge. She reminds him of the legend of a young boy who jumped from the mountain to gain his wish, and flew away, knowing that the wish was granted. Then she asks him to make a wish; he does, and wishes for them to be together in the desert. Then she jumps off the bridge and flies away, and he looks sad. Roll credits.

What the heck happened there? By jumping off the bridge, it’s implied that she’s granting his wish. But by flying away forever, they’re obviously not going to be together in the desert; his sad face seems to confirm this. Was she saying ‘make a wish’ and then mocking him by soaring off without him? Shouldn’t they both have jumped or something?

Oh, and would someone care to explain the movie’s title to me? It’s symbolic of course, I’m just wondering who’s the tiger, and who’s the dragon.


I took it as Jen finding peace at last, after being on the knife’s edge of Jade Fox’s plans for much of her life. I thought Lo looked wistful, not sad, perhaps uncertain about Jen’s feelings for him. I didn’t think Jen had committed suicide (hell, she could probably jump over a mountain range at that point). But ultimately it seemed Jen had granted Lo his wish and they would be together.

Having said that, I did entertain a thought of throwing a brick at the screen because of this ending; it was frustratingly ambiguous.

I dozed off and missed the middle 20 minutes or so, I mention just for the heck of it. It doesn’t appear to have made any difference.

I’m pretty sure she committed suicide. Remember that at the beginning of the movie, Chow Yun-fat’s character had a premonition of the ending scene, something about flying through clouds and being surrounded by infinite sadness.

Well, except that contradicts Lo’s legend, which references the end scene much more explicitly and refers to flying away unharmed after jumping. If she was committing suicide, I’d expect more, ya know, downward motion.

Hmm. I’ve never had a conversation about that movie which didn’t presuppose that the final scene depicted her suicide.

Now I have to go watch it again. It shows her flying away?


Yep! I think you left too early. The last shot of the movie is a nice, slow shot of her drifting comfortably through the clouds with a happy look on her face. And when she leaps from the bridge there’s definitely a sideways flying motion to how she leaves the bridge.

Update! Now with video goodness!!

Just watched it on Youtube. I have absolutely no recollection of her having sort of floated down rather than simply jumping, but there it is. She floats.

Huh. I’ve seen this movie three times and never noticed that. I always thought she just jumped, and I never quite understood why, but figured it was a case of her feeling she didn’t deserve a happy ending. Stupid overly melodramatic movie character behavior.

Anyway, wikipedia says that the next book in the cycle depicts the two after this event as a couple with a son, so I guess in the books she survives. But I think the movie is supposed to be ambiguous.


I interpret it as irony.

It reminds me of in Forrest Gump, when he and Jenny are sharing a moment together and she asks him if he remembers how when they were little they’d hide together and pray that she could become a little bird and fly away? You think I’d fly if I jumped off this bridge, Forrest?

Maybe her spirit flies away - her body is crunched at the bottom of the cliff.

Watched the youtube clip and in the very last shot of her, she’s clearly plummeting. Maybe with a look of release on her face. But release is a far cry from living happily ever after–in her case just the opposite, I suspect.

How else could she relieve herself of the burden of having caused the death of one of her would-be mentors, and destroying the happiness of the other? In light of that, I think the last exchange she has with her lover just illustrates how worthless her former dreams have become. She could never enjoy it because she knows she doesn’t deserve it.

And anyway, where do people get the idea that any of these people could fly?

Um… I’m guessing sarcasm?

No, I think he’s saying they can make suprising jumps, but can’t just fly away to wherever they wish to go. That sounds right to me, but my memory of the film is pretty hazy.


Ah yes, they can SORT OF break the laws of physics. In my book, if you can balance on a 1-cm tree branch or hop across a pond, flying is not out of the question.

The cartoon physics got increasingly outlandish, though. It was kinda like early issues of Superman where he starts out being able to jump an eighth of a mile, and a few years later is flying through time at superlight speed. By the end of that movie, I’d’ve been surprised if the characters weren’t flying.

Not to mention go from standing on the ground floor of a building, jump up and spin around about 1200 degrees and then land on the balcony of the floor above you.

Personally, I think it is because “No happy movies ever win an Oscar” muse.

I interpret it as Jen actually liked Mubai and she had enough of the world as it is.

Though the skeptical side of me thinks the director just wants the movie to have an ‘arty’ type of ending.

That’s not flying - that’s falling, with style.

Er, maybe because they kept on flying all over the place, all the time?

By coincidence, I watched CTHD for the first time at the weekend. I hadn’t heard much of the plot, but the one thing I constantly heard was that it was beautifully shot. Well WTF? The ridiculous fight scenes where people would be obviously yanked by harnesses, be skipping over rooftops with their feet “running in the air” not even trying to make it look like they were actually leaping rather being dragged around, totally killed the movie for me. I remember during the first fight scene, which started off reasonably realistic, then one of the combatants suddenlt levitated and zoomed horizontally for a hundred feet or so. My girlfriend and I just looked at each other and rolled our eyes. This was clearly going to suck.

I mean, the main characters were able to leap and fly at least 50 feet into the air, not to mention stand sideways on the walls of buildings, etc. So were these people meant to have supernatural powers or something? Or just be so skilled in the way of Wudan that they appeared to?

BTW, I certainly interpreted the final scene to show Jen flying rather than commiting suicide. She seemed to me to be soaring horizontally along the valley at the end. But then by that point I didn’t really care - it wouldn’t have surprised me if she’d done a loop-the-loop with red smoke coming out of her arse.
BTW - according to Wikipedia: