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December 11, 2000 at 11 PM

After paying twelve dollars (twelve

After paying twelve dollars (twelve dollars!) and standing in line to get into the theatre — I detest standing in line — and watching out of focus previews with the volume turned up waaaaaaaay too loud, I was quite prepared to be disappointed with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

But it was not to be.

Instead I watched some of the best action sequences ever put on film, combed into an epic fable of heroes, loyalty and tragedy. Ang Lee's latest film, set in the vast, varied and rich terrain of old China, is a martial arts extravaganza that puts exploding cars and Jerry Bruckheimer to shame.

Lee's previous works, The Ice Storm and Sense and Sensibility, don't suggest the director had something like this up his sleeve. But in many ways, it's Lee's artsy tendencies that make Crouching Tiger such a treat. The film is sub-titled (no, it's not that kind of martial arts movie) which certainly lends it authenticity over many other films set in distant times and places. China never looked so exotic as in front of this camera lens. The acting is textured and engrossing. The fighting scenes are shot as if an exquisite dance.

Which isn't to say it's mushy. No, there's just the right amount of BIF! and THWACK! and blood, not to mention a fantastic scene in which the two women go at it. No tight leather body suits, no hair pulling, just raw female energy, and one could be forgiven for wondering why men have been doing most of the fighting for the last thousand years.

It's all good stuff. So queue the announcer: "IF THERE'S JUST ONE MOVIE YOU SEE THIS HOLIDAY SEASON..."

Comments

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Previously: Having apparently taken care of

Subsequently: Japan has voted instant noodles

December 2000
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