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Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon (Blu-ray) Official AVSForum Review

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 
attachment.php?attachmentid=180983&d=1279807586
The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )

Film: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

Extras: attachment.php?attachmentid=109943&d=1210373647

Audio/Video total rating:

( Max score: 100 )

85






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
Resolution: 1080p/24


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. *


Film Synopsis:

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.



My Take:

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.




Parental Guide:

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)

Audio: 84



  • Dynamics: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Low frequency extension: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Surround Sound presentation: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Clarity/Detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373692

  • Dialogue Reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373692



Video: 86


(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)


  • Resolution/Clarity: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Black level/Shadow detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Color reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373692

  • Fleshtones: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Compression: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373692

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.**



Bonus Features:


  • 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
attachment.php?attachmentid=180984&d=1279807586



Final Thoughts:

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.









attachment.php?attachmentid=109949&d=1210373731






Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews





Reference Review System:


JVC DLA-RS20 1080p High Definition Front Projector (Calibrated by Jeff Meier)
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Anthem AVM50v THX Ultra 2 Preamp/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-83 Universal disc/Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Oppo 970HD universal disc DVD Player (480i HDMI)
Philips TSU9400 Pro Series Touch Panel Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" Series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Furman SPR-20i Stable Power Regulator
Wireworld, VizionWare, Audioquest, Better Cables, Best Deal Cables - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package
post #2 of 30
I took my sons middle school Japanese class to Princess Mononoke which was in Japanese with subtitles. The next year Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon came out and I took the class to see it. It is a marvelous film. The kids enjoyed it more than Mononoke-hime.
post #3 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by texastengu View Post

I took my sons middle school Japanese class to Princess Mononoke which was in Japanese with subtitles. The next year Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon came out and I took the class to see it. It is a marvelous film. The kids enjoyed it more than Mononoke-hime.

Both fantastic movies.
post #4 of 30
I was hoping they'd include an updated subtitle track for this instead of the one they used on the 2009 blu release. Explanation:

"There are two versions of the subtitles out there - two different full translations, neither of which are English SDH tracks. The R1 Superbit, and certain versions of the R2 and R3 DVD, have the theatrical (termed 'poetic' by fans) subtitles, and other releases have had a different version. Both seem to be fairly sound in terms of translation, but the theatrical ones have been 'prettied up' by Ang Lee who said he agonized over every last word."

Maybe not a deal breaker for some, but for as much as I adore this film, the theatrical subs would be the icing on the cake... ah well!
post #5 of 30
The review lists way more subtitles than the box... which one's accurate?

(And Sony, there's a Cantonese population in this country that CAN'T UNDERSTAND MANDARIN. Chinese subs PLEASE!)
post #6 of 30
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by chirpie View Post

The review lists way more subtitles than the box... which one's accurate?

(And Sony, there's a Cantonese population in this country that CAN'T UNDERSTAND MANDARIN. Chinese subs PLEASE!)

Greetings,

The disc jacket is accurate. The review has been corrected. My apologies for any confusion.


Regards,
post #7 of 30
I really like this movie, but I think a purchase will go on the back burner until they correct the subtitles.
post #8 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by chirpie View Post

(And Sony, there's a Cantonese population in this country that CAN'T UNDERSTAND MANDARIN. Chinese subs PLEASE!)

When we used to go to the Kim Sing on Figueroa in Los Angeles' Chinatown
there was Cantonese and English subtitles on every film.
post #9 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by AaronMK View Post

I really like this movie, but I think a purchase will go on the back burner until they correct the subtitles.

Exactly what I was thinking...
Rented it and it had great PQ for my eyes...
The subtitles thing continues to be a kind of a problem...
Thank you for this awesome review...
post #10 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by texastengu View Post

When we used to go to the Kim Sing on Figueroa in Los Angeles' Chinatown
there was Cantonese and English subtitles on every film.

Exactly. :-)

(nice sub-subject line btw ^_^)
post #11 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ralph Potts View Post

Greetings,

The disc jacket is accurate. The review has been corrected. My apologies for any confusion.


Regards,

No, I appreciate you checking. Thanks!
post #12 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by chirpie View Post

The review lists way more subtitles than the box... which one's accurate?

(And Sony, there's a Cantonese population in this country that CAN'T UNDERSTAND MANDARIN. Chinese subs PLEASE!)

Man, this got me thinking! China should look to some of our more um... er... "forward thinking" states and have "Chinese Only" legislation passed.

Ripped from the Chinese TV headlines!

Some random Chinese political yahoo candidate with a surprisingly deep southern U.S. accent: "Speak Chinese, people! We can't understand you!!! And if you vote for me... I'll make sure it's the only language we speak or read in China. Chinese for Chinese people." [big wink and a wide smile]

Educated Chinese person: "Yeah, but Mandarin and Cantonese are Chinese! And there are other provinces as well with their own local dialects... which one should we pick??!!"

Chinese political candidate scratches his head: "Well, um... hey, that's a gotcha question! I don't take kindly to those! Chinese only!! This is China, for godsakes!" [and he runs out the door]



Oh, and I wish Sony had taken the time to correct the subtitles (make them the theatrical subs) and place them within the picture while they were at it. And Cantonese subs too. Sheesh!
post #13 of 30
I'm a little confused on the subject of the subtitles. What is the issue here? And what subtitles were on the standard DVD?

Jeff
post #14 of 30
Anyone, anyone??? Bueller, Bueller....

Jeff
post #15 of 30
Theatrical subtitles are on the DVD. Blu-ray has different subtitles though no one knows why.

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1162160
post #16 of 30
So i assume, uk release steal box, us combo release and this are all 3 same transfer?
post #17 of 30
Watching the Blu-ray, I didn't notice a problem with the Subtitles until Li Mu Bai's final words to Shu Lien.

The subs on the Blu-ray go:
"I've already wasted my whole life.
I want to tell you with my remaining strength
that I love you. I always have.
I'll drift next to you everyday as a ghost
just to be with you.
Even if I was banished to the darkest place,
my love
will keep me from being a lonely spirit."


Compared to the subs on the DVD version, which go:
"I've already wasted my whole life.
I want to tell you with my last breath...
I have always loved you.
I would rather be a ghost, drifting by your side...
as a condemned soul...
than enter heaven without you.
Because of your love...
I will never be a lonely spirit."



At least in this one instance, I much prefer the subs on the original DVD to the subs on the Blu-ray.

I really don't know why Sony would change the subtitles from the original theatrical release, especially considering that this film won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and was nominated for Best Picture.

I've got to imagine that it was just some idiot in charge of the release, who didn't know or didn't care about Ang Lee's preference regarding the subtitles.
post #18 of 30
Hey all, can you help me settle this.

I picked up the new release of CTHD with the silver banner on top. I now own Daggers, Golden Flower, and Heaven and earth as well. Tonight at Best Buy I noticed they had the original release of CTHD that was originally sold only in the box set and the new release. The two versions have the same SKU and UPC but the new version is exactly the one you reviewed. What's driving me nuts is I'm super anal when it comes to my BD collection and now my set of the Sony Pictures Classics line do not flow because of the new cover design.

I also noticed differences on the back of the case:

The version I own has Mandarin 5.1 TrueHD, 2:40 aspect ratio, extra commentary, and BD-Live.

The version I saw today had Cantonese Uncompressed, 2:35 aspect ratio, less extra features but more subtitles, no BD-live.
post #19 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by IRCRomeo View Post


The version I saw today had Cantonese Uncompressed, 2:35 aspect ratio, less extra features but more subtitles, no BD-live.

By more subtitles, do you mean other languages as in French, Spanish, Dutch etc?

REEEEALLY wish they'd have carried the superior DVD subs over to the Blu-ray...

post #20 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by gridbug View Post

By more subtitles, do you mean other languages as in French, Spanish, Dutch etc?

REEEEALLY wish they'd have carried the superior DVD subs over to the Blu-ray...


Yes. It has about many different languages, including Thai.


Edit:

From buy.com:
Available Subtitles: English, French, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai
post #21 of 30
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by IRCRomeo View Post

Hey all, can you help me settle this.

I picked up the new release of CTHD with the silver banner on top. I now own Daggers, Golden Flower, and Heaven and earth as well. Tonight at Best Buy I noticed they had the original release of CTHD that was originally sold only in the box set and the new release. The two versions have the same SKU and UPC but the new version is exactly the one you reviewed. What's driving me nuts is I'm super anal when it comes to my BD collection and now my set of the Sony Pictures Classics line do not flow because of the new cover design.

I also noticed differences on the back of the case:

The version I own has Mandarin 5.1 TrueHD, 2:40 aspect ratio, extra commentary, and BD-Live.

The version I saw today had Cantonese Uncompressed, 2:35 aspect ratio, less extra features but more subtitles, no BD-live.

Greetings,

The case on the disc that came in the box set is mislabeled. The disc inside has the same audio feature set as the one that you have.

Regards,
post #22 of 30
Soooo....since I don't know or understand a word of Mandarian or Cantonese, I'm not REALLY going to know the diffrence, will I??

Jeff
post #23 of 30
It's a matter of preference more than anything. If you want to see the film the way the director intended, then it's all about the "correct" subtitles. IMO, this film is very poetic and mythic and the subs that Ang Lee personally supervised fit that aesthetic more than the replacement ones do. Then again, some folks prefer to watch it with the English dub track, so...

;p
post #24 of 30
Ok, so I don't understand a word of Cantonese nor Mandarian, BUT I do remember the sub titles in the standard DVD for the most part and what I want to know is WHY couldn't they just do an audio transfer from what was correct to the Blu Ray...??? I watched this last night and when Jade Fox was fighting the policeman, his daughter and the guard in the courtyard and Chow Yun Fat entered it was a whole new dialog. If I remember correctly she said on the standard DVD "It's an ambush"!! On the Blu Ray she said (I might be a tad off) "You have a hidden pair of hands"! Why not start a letter writing campaign to the studio to change this??? Some of the dialog also didn't make to much sense. Thanks for opening my eyes and making me aware of the differences, you have to watch it to understand what you folks were talking about!

Jeff
post #25 of 30
As a long-time believer in subtitles rather than dubbing, I bought the SuperBit DVD when it came out years ago, which ditched the English-dubbed track in favor of a choice of Dolby or DTS - both in Chinese - with the theatrical English subtitles.

Imagine my suprise to discover that the English-dubbed track on the Blu-ray was voiced by the original actors - all of whom speak English fluently, being international stars - and is better than the subtitles, because it contains more nuance than the highly-compressed subtitle format can convey.

Maybe it was because I was comparing it to the new subtitles, but I found watching the film with the original actors truly acting in English to be totally natural and emotionally involving.

Give the English audio track a listen.
post #26 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Philnick View Post

As a long-time believer in subtitles rather than dubbing, I bought the SuperBit DVD when it came out years ago, which ditched the English-dubbed track in favor of a choice of Dolby or DTS - both in Chinese - with the theatrical English subtitles.

Imagine my suprise to discover that the English-dubbed track on the Blu-ray was voiced by the original actors - all of whom speak English fluently, being international stars - and is better than the subtitles, because it contains more nuance than the highly-compressed subtitle format can convey.

Maybe it was because I was comparing it to the new subtitles, but I found watching the film with the original actors truly acting in English to be totally natural and emotionally involving.

Give the English audio track a listen.

Thanks for the tip. I didn't care for the dub track on the dvd; the meaning and substance wasn't the same as the subtitles. But if the new dub is more faithful, I'll have to give it a shot. You miss a lot of the acting (facial expressions, reactions, etc), not to mention a lot of great scenery, when you're reading.
post #27 of 30
One of the advantages of the English-language track is that the actors do a good job of lip-synching - an odd term to use given that it's in a different language - but unless you're trying to read lips, the result is that their words match their actions in time, and the emotional tenor matches their expressions.

I hope you post your reaction!
post #28 of 30
post #29 of 30
I'm glad somebody else (#24) noticed the different subtitles used in the Blu-Ray version. The new version may be a more literal translation but Sony should have stuck with the original used in the DVD version as it is far more lyrical and poetic.
post #30 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by pvalue2 View Post

I'm glad somebody else (#24) noticed the different subtitles used in the Blu-Ray version. The new version may be a more literal translation but Sony should have stuck with the original used in the DVD version as it is far more lyrical and poetic.

I too love the original subtitles, and can even quote Li Mu Bai's last words in that version - "I would rather be a ghost drifting by your side as a condemned soul than enter heaven without you . . . because of your love, I will never be a lonely spirit."

But there's a silver lining here - my dissatisfaction with the new subtitles drove me to try the English language soundtrack acted by the original cast - which I found was not only better than the new subtitles but totally-naturalistic and involving, to the point of being better than the original subtitles. (See my post #25 above.)

The original subtitles are poetry, but this is a movie we're watching - if text is what you want, why use a Blu-ray player and high definition display?
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