The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Sony Pictures Classics - 2000
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 120 Minutes
Genre: Martial Arts/Drama
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Audio Format(s): Chinese/English/French Dolby TrueHD 5.1,
Subtitles: English SDH, English, French
Starring: Chow Yun Fat, Michelle Yeoh, Ziyi Zhang, Chang Chen, Lang Sihung
Directed by: Ang Lee
Music by: Tan Dun
Written by: Wang Hui Ling, James Schamus, Tsai Kuo Jung
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: July 27, 2010
"What is a sword without a master"
* It should be noted that I reviewed Crouching tiger hidden dragon in July 2009 when it was released as part of a three disc Blu-ray set that also included House of flying daggers, and Curse of the Golden Flower. From a technical standpoint this release is exactly the same. The changes here include an updated (and correct) slipcover which indicates Dolby TrueHD 5.1 channel audio and the addition of an all-new audio commentary with Award-Winning cinematographer Peter Pau. *
Two master warriors (Chow Yun Fat and Michelle Yeoh) are faced with their greatest challenge when the treasured Green Destiny sword is stolen. A young aristocrat (Zhang Ziyi) prepares for an arranged marriage, but soon reveals her superior fighting talents and her deeply romantic past. As each warrior battles for justice, they come face to face with their worst enemy - and the inescapable, enduring power of love.
The story is a multilayered story that is essentially built around three scenarios. Li Mu-Bai (Chow Yun Fat) is a Wudang warrior/swordsmen who has become disenchanted with warrior life and his search for Jade Fox, the female warrior who betrayed and murdered his master. He carries the 400 year old Green Destiny sword and desires that it be turned over to Sir Te in Bejing for safekeeping. He tasks his long time friend and fellow warrior Shu-Lien (Michelle Yeoh) with delivering it to him which she does. While at Sir Te’s estate she meets Jen, a young aristocrat who is engaged to be married in an arrangement settled by her parents. She is carefully watched over by her mother and governess. Later that evening a masked thief enters the compound and steals the Green Destiny sword. Shu-Lien attempts to stop the thief but after a brief struggle and some outside help the thief escapes with it.
Li Mu-Bai arrives the following day and he and Shu –Lien piece together the puzzle regarding the thief and attempt to locate the missing sword. It turns out that Jen is behind the theft and that her governess is none other than Jade Fox. The two have been together since Jen was eight years old. Jade Fox considers her to be her protégé and the two have used the stolen Wudang book (obtained years earlier from Li Mu-Bai’s master) to learn the secrets of the Wudang fighting art. Jen reveals that she has always desired to be a master of the art and has trained herself beyond the abilites of Jade Fox (due to her inability to interpret/understand it) but kept this fact from her. It is also learned that Jen once had a passionate love affair with Lo, an outlaw bandit also referred to as Dark Cloud (after he kidnapped her from her parents caravan in the desert) and that he has vowed to return to her.
Li Mu-Bai isn’t the only one searching for the illusive Jade Fox who has made many enemies throughout the years. Shu-lien and Li Mu-Bai separately face off against Jen on several occasions and she displays measurable yet raw skill. Li Mu-Bai wants to convert and train her properly in the Wudang arts but she refuses and only desires to keep the sword and prove herself. As the story plays out Li Mu-Bai gets his chance to exact revenge against Jade Fox for the murder of his master. Both he and Shu-Lien come to terms with the fact that they have secretly had feelings for one another for years but never acted upon them. Lo resurfaces and vies for Jen but her desire to be free and wield power interferes. Lastly Jade Fox feels betrayed by Jen for keeping the secret with respect to her knowledge/abilities learned from the stolen Wudang book of training secrets. These elements all come together in a haze of martial arts action that culminates in redemption, loss, understanding, and tragedy. The result is an exciting, thought provoking and stimulating film that is truly entertaining.
I am ashamed to admit that I have never seen Crouching tiger, hidden dragon. It was one of those films that I always heard such good things about but never got around to. I was excited when this set arrived the other day. House of flying daggers and Curse of the Golden Flower has been available on Blu-ray for some time now but this is Crouching tiger’s debut on the format. Having never seen it I must admit that the wait was well worth it. What an intriguing story that interweaves love, passion, tragedy, betrayal, vengeance, and loss. This is incorporated in a martial arts based film that brims with swordplay, high flying (literally) special effects, a well crafted story and a wonderfully chosen cast.
I have been a fan of Michelle Yeoh’s since I first saw her in James Bond’s Tomorrow Never Dies. I find her striking good looks and exciting martial arts physicality captivating to watch. I thought she gave an eloquent and believable performance in this role. She had excellent onscreen chemistry with Chow Yun Fat, who is an actor that needs no introduction. I appreciated the fact that romance played an integral part in the story but yet it rarely took center stage and dictated its flow. Character development was strong and I found I liked them all for various reasons. The blend of action, and drama along with a light sprinkling of levity achieved a proportionate balance that kept interest high. The small but meaningful lesson about regret didn’t go unnoticed and I liked how things ended. What a great film.
The rating is for martial arts violence and some sexuality.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Crouching tiger, hidden dragon comes to Blu-ray Disc from Sony featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 24 mbps and lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 channel audio that has an average bitrate of 1.7 mbps.
This long awaited classic film comes to Blu-ray from Sony featuring an excellent high definition video presentation. It boasts defining resolution, good depth and an estimable film like texture. Images were discernibly detailed which brought out plenty of delineation and texture within clothing, physical features, and objects onscreen. Long range visuals were resolved with above average clarity and lucid acuity which highlighted the film’s superb cinematography. The video had a fine, grainy consistency that was apparent but never prominent. Contrast was spot on as the gradational stages in white/gray tones readily apparent. Blacks were stable and stood out nicely when onscreen with mixed content. Dark sequences had appreciable dimension and revealing shadow detail that combined with the video’s higher resolution to enhance depth perception. A fine example of this can be seen during the rooftop chase/encounter between the thief and Shu-Lien during chapter 3. With the exception of red colors aren’t overtly bright but they are accurate with excellent tonal balance. The various earth and sepia toned hues are beautifully rendered and looked great on my large screen. This doesn’t present the dynamically enhanced, razor sharp, or high gloss imagery of some of today’s newer films coming to the format however its original elements appear intact and fidelity is rarely questionable. It looks wonderful.
As stated earlier this release properly indicates the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 channel options in Chinese, English and French. The English subtitled Chinese Dolby TrueHD soundtrack was highlighted by opulent dynamic range, punchy bass, and definitive high resolution clarity. Dialogue had excellent room penetration, texture, and definition through the center channel. Information mixed to the front three channels was well balanced as it created a cohesive soundstage that was clearly intelligible with notable separation and depth. The surrounds weren’t heavily engaged throughout the presentation however their use was frequent and at times titillating to the senses. The extensive fight sequences contained a variety of sound effects. This is an intricate and fairly complex sound design that didn’t disappoint. These sequences sounded great as it created a busy sound field filled with immersive directional activity that emanated from all directions. I was impressed with its smooth upper treble and sibilant free quality. Bass response was quite good as it accentuated impact and provided low frequency authority where appropriate. This isn’t an overly aggressive surround sound mix but it maintains an excellent balance between dynamics, detail, and directional spacing that enriches its presentation in the home environment.
** CIH users should note that the subtitles appear in both the picture and letterbox area.**
- All-new audio commentary with Award-Winning cinematographer Peter Pau
- Commentary by Ang Lee and James Schamus
- A conversation with Michelle Yeoh – 13 minute featurette
- Unleashing the dragon: The making of Crouching tiger, hidden dragon – 20 minute documentary
- Photo gallery
- (HD) 7 BD previews
- BD-Live enabled
Crouching tiger, hidden dragon is considered by many to be a classic and (at the time) groundbreaking genre film. It took me nine years to finally see it but I must say that it was worth the wait as I thoroughly enjoyed it. It is more than a drama, more than martial arts action and is anything but typical. Its long awaited debut on Blu-ray Disc is sure to please from a technical standpoint as it looks and sound great. Its bonus content features a pair of decent featurettes, an interesting commentary from Director Ang Lee/Screenwriter James Schamus and an all-new audio commentary with cinematographer Peter Pau. The original Blu-ray release was only available as part of a three disc set that included Curse of the Golden Flower and House of flying daggers. This new release gives fans who already own those two films in high definition the opportunity to purchase this separately. I am happy to report that Sony has done a superb job with its presentation and those desiring it can pick it up with confidence.
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