Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon on DVD

Dom Robinson reviews

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Distributed by

Columbia TriStar


  • Cert:
  • CDR 31055
  • Running time: 115 minutes
  • Year: 2000
  • Pressing: 2001
  • Region(s): 2, PAL
  • Chapters: 28 plus extras
  • Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Languages: English, Mandarin
  • Subtitles: 11 languages available
  • Widescreen: 2.35:1 (Super 35)
  • 16:9-Enhanced: Yes
  • Macrovision: Yes
  • Disc Format: DVD 9
  • Price: £19.99
  • Extras: Four Theatrical Trailers, The Making Of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon,A Conversation with Michelle Yeoh, Photo Montage, Talent Files,Audio Commentary by Ang Lee and James Schamus


      Ang Lee

    (Chosen, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Eat Drink Man Woman, The Ice Storm, Pushing Hands, Ride with the Devil, Sense and Sensibility, The Wedding Banquet)


    Li-Kong Hsu, William Kong and Ang Lee


    Hui-Ling Wang, James Schamus and Kuo Jung Tsai


    Tan Dun


    Li Mu Bai: Chow Yun-Fat
    Shu Lien: Michelle Yeoh
    Lo: Chen Chang
    Jen: Ziyi Zhang
    Sir Te: Sihung Lung
    Jade Fox: Pei-pei Cheng
    Govenor Yu: Fazeng Li
    Bo: Xian Gao

Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon is the Chinese equivalent of Gladiator – both were hyped beyond mention, scooped a few Oscars, but arethe combination of a handful of impressive fight sequences linked togetherby some of the dullest talkie moments ever created.

The plot itself is pretty straight-forward. Warrior Shu Lien (Michelle Yeoh,who had her turn as a Bond girl inTomorrow Never Dies)is to deliver the sword to end all swords – the Green Destiny. It’s a piece ofwork that should be marketed on QVC given that it can cut through anythingwithout question, but it belongs to Sir Te (Sihung Lung) and Shu Lienwill make sure he gets it.

Oh, but horror upon horrors when it gets stolen by a mystery thief, who mightnot be so much of a mystery because veteran baddie Jade Fox (Pei-pei Cheng,who looks like TV cook Nancy Lam having an extremely bad hair day) is inthe frame, but isn’t she a bit old for all this? Only the most clueless of viewerswouldn’t have twigged that it had something to do with Jen (Ziyi Zhang),a young girl who is also a guest of Sir Te and complains that she has nothingto do all day but marvel at the feats of her new warrior “sister” Shu Lien.

Also throwing himself into the mix, literally, is Chow Yun-Fat as ShuLien’s master Li Mu Bai and a man with whom she is besotted, which could leadto a possible romantic interest, but you can rest assured that there aren’tany shagging shenanigans in this 12-certificate film. Chen Chang alsoappears as Lo, Jen’s other half, convincing her to return home back to the placewhere she belongs.

film pic

“I challenge you to ‘Rock, Scissors, Paper’…”

As befitting any Carl Douglas revival, everyone’s kung-fu fighting but with adifference, given that all the major fight scenes involve dancing andpirouetting over rooves, as Shu Lien chases after the initially-anonymouse andelusive thief, although we know the walking on walls and floors almost-simultaneouslywas done years ago with Lionel Richie‘s Dancing on the Ceiling video; through trees and across lakes for Lu Mu Bai and Jen, withinvisible wires a must because you’d have to otherwise be superhuman toperform the same moves; and a showdown between the two leading ladies in thedojo. However, while these are unbelievably well-choreographed and scripted,for me I just couldn’t stop laughing because they were so over-the-top thatI couldn’t suspend my disbelief enough.

Another of the film’s downfalls is that it didn’t have a story you couldeasily care about and, with the occasional cheesy dialogue and behaviourthat wouldn’t seem out of place in the FMV sequences of a computer game,it actually put me to sleep. The 20-minute sequence, which gets a wholechapter to itself, about how Jen and Lo got it together didn’t help matterseither.

Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon won two Golden Globes, four BAFTAs andfour Academy Awards.

film pic

Despite Jen’s efforts to look sultry,
you can’t hide a fart.

I had no problems with the picture quality whatsoever, despite the manydark scenes on view. Presented in the original 2.35:1 widescreen ratio,the anamorphic print is free of artifacts.The average bitrate is 5.14Mb/s, briefly peaking above 8Mb/s.

Congrats to Columbia as Dolby Digital 5.1 comes in both the original Mandarin and a dubbed English,although we know the two leads can speak English so I would put money on thosebeing their own accents doing in the talking, even if they don’t synchronisewith the picture, not that I found this a major problem with this movie.Split-surrounds aren’t always used, but the sound FX do their job when required.

film pic

“If I squint a bit, I can just make out some semblance of a plot.”

First up are four Theatrical Trailers, a 2-minute US theatrical trailerand a 90-second International trailer both in non-anamorphic 16:9, followedby trailers for other films: Vertical Limit (2 mins, anamorphic 16:9)and Not One Less (90 secs, 4:3 fullscreen).

Unleashing Dragons: The Making Of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon runs for21 minutes and contains chat from the cast and crew interspered with 2.35:1non-anamorphic and subtitled clips from the film, while you can also spend14 minutes in the company of A Conversation with Michelle Yeoh, forwhich she brushes her hair and puts a bit of lippy on to become quiteattractive for a recent change. 4:3-cropped clips are also included alongwith on-set footage.

The Photo Montage runs for 7 minutes with scores of film stills arezoomed in and out to the movie’s score and there are Talent Filesfor director Ang Lee, its stars Chow Yun-Fat and Michelle Yeoh,screenwriter James Schamus who has written most of Ang Lee’s outputand fight choreographer Yuen Wo Ping who also worked onThe Matrix.Finally, there is a feature-length audio commentary from Ang Lee andJames Schamus.

As this is a Columbia DVD we have the usual 28 chapters and subtitles in11 languages :English, Polish, Czech, Hungarian, Turkish, Portuguese, Hebrew, Hindi,Bulgarian, Greek and Arabic.The main menu is nicely animated and scored with clips from the film andinbetween each menu comes further clips intersliced.

film pic

Day one of filming and Michelle Yeoh’s
pelvis locked at the wrong moment.


Review copyright © Dominic Robinson, 2001.