Review by Steve Rhodes
2 stars out of 4
The much anticipated and highly praised CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON is
the most overrated film of the year. Although it has MATRIX-inspired
moments that are truly magical, these are few and far between. A talky film
with remarkably little to say, it features characters that are never fleshed
out or worth caring about. Kung fu fans will be probably be willing to wait
through more long dry spots than Death Valley in order to watch the
fighting. Others may find themselves in the unusual position of frequently
checking their watches in what, one assumes, is supposed to be an action
picture. Certainly, if the action sequences were removed, the rest of the
comatose script would not be worth watching.
In CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON, director Ang Lee (SENSE AND SENSIBILITY
and THE ICE STORM) has come up with the least interesting film of his
career, one that is, on the whole, not up even to his last effort, RIDE WITH
Chow Yun Fat, after his disastrous performance in ANNA AND THE KING, plays
the male lead, Li Mu Bai, who is in the process of giving up his famous
sword, Green Destiny. Joining him is the head of the Yuan Security
Compound, Yu Shu Lien (Michelle Yeoh, TOMORROW NEVER DIES). Along the way,
Jen (Zhang Ziyi), a disciple of the evil Jade Fox (Cheng Pei Pei), captures
the sword. Needless to say, the others will want to get it back.
The trailers show almost all of the good scenes from the movie. As they
fight with swords and fists, the actors get to walk on water as well as
treetops and thin bamboo. Almost all of their movements do not occur
naturally in nature. These sequences could have formed the basis for a
wonderful motion picture, but, as soon as the action stops, the actors start
to slowly, painfully slowly, drone on with some of the most lifeless dialog
of the year.
Based on the trailers, I expected a magical motion picture. Instead, I got
a tedious one that is interrupted sporadically by interludes of brilliance.
According to my watch, with which I become well acquainted during the
screening, I believe that there are about 10 minutes of a great movie
interspersed into an exceedingly dull one. See the trailers; skip the
CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON runs a long 1:59. The film is in Mandarin
with English subtitles. It is rated PG-13 for martial arts violence and
some sexuality and would be acceptable for kids around 11 and up. I
suspect, however, that most kids will be quite bored.
Copyright © 2000 Steve Rhodes