I watched this movie four times. The first time, I listened to the language read the captions and understood the story. The second time I paid attention to the choreography, action scenes and serenity; a third time to catch the parts I overlooked and/or missed, and finally a fourth time to mentally bring it altogether. I am enchanted by Chinese culture, traditions, people and the martial arts. I remember when I was a boy I would always make it home in time to watch Kung-Fu Theater on Sunday afternoons. I enjoyed watching the heroes beat up the bad guys, save the girl, and win the day. I would pretend that I was a Kung-Fu Master with a long white beard that could leap in the air and fly beating up bad guys and teaching them “lessons” along with my favorite heroes. Ang Lee presents Kung-Fu and the Chinese culture to his audience like no other. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is much more than any of the movies I watched on Kung-Fu Theater; it brings the martial arts together with matters of the heart, through the magical powers of a sword the Green Destiny. Two loves clash each other in a mishmash of Chinese martial arts styles that seem more poetic then violent.
The loyalty to a dead friend keeps the feelings between Li Mu Bai and Yu Shu Lien from becoming a reality. Li Mu Bai returns from Wudang Mountain and never experiences enlightenment that he expects during his meditation, Shu Lien questions Li about experiencing enlightenment and his response puzzles her:
No. I didn’t fell the bliss of enlightenment. Instead…I was surrounded by an endless sorrow. I couldn’t bear it. I broke off my meditation. I couldn’t go on. There was something pulling me back. (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon)
I think what was pulling him back was his inaction to act upon his love for Shu Lien; and the endless sorrow that he was surrounded by belonged to Shu Lien for the lost unexpressed love: his. Li comes to the reality that he will never get the chance to express his love to Shu Lien. I believe that during his meditation Li perceived his death at the hands of the Giang Hu underworld and attempts to give up his sword the Green Destiny, the object that starts the story, to prolong the inevitable. There are only two times in this movie where Li Mu Bai and Shu Lien profess their feelings to another and both times interrupted indirectly by circumstances surrounding Li’s sword the Green Destiny. Could this magical sword be jealous of their love? I think so, the Green Destiny wants to claim Li and through events of the story seduces Jen to cause controversy and Li to pursuit of it.
Jen fascinated by stories of the Giang Hu underworld planted in her head at a young age by Jade Fox corrupts her reality. Jen rebels and steals the Green Destiny and is seduced by its power. Lo and Jens forbidden love intertwine throughout the story and fatally clash with the other love. Rebellious Jen runs away from her prearranged marriage to live the warrior’s life but finds out that she is not ready for it. I enjoyed watching Jen fight the big tough guys in the restaurant and beat them black and blue. The very next scene when these big beat up tough guys are crying to Li Mu Bai and Shu Lien about how she beat them up. Overall I enjoyed this movie, I understood the ending but didn’t like it, a double tragedy, the only ones left standing at the end was a lonely Shu Lien, a heartbroken Lo, and the Green Destiny.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Dir. Ang Lee. Perf. Michelle Yeoh, Zhang Ziyi, Chang Chen Chow Yun-Fat. 2000.