The Art in Martial Arts - TopTenMM Martial Arts Movies

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)


A young Chinese warrior steals the famed sword of a swordsman and escapes with a mysterious man in the frontier of the nation.


Director: Ang Lee

Writers: Du Lu Wang (book), Hui-Ling Wang (screenplay)

Stars: Yun-Fat Chow, Michelle Yeoh, Ziyi Zhang


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A tragic love story or a martial arts film? Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) is – believe or not – both.


Director Ang Lee (who also made Sense and Sensibility (1995), Hulk (2003), Brokeback Mountain (2005) and Life of Pi (2012)) leverages this counter-intuitive combination to the full in this poetry-in-motion film about love, betrayal and revenge set in the 18th century Qing Dynasty. Based on the Chinese novel by Wang Dulu, it went on to win four Academy Awards (Best Cinematography, Original Score, Art Direction, Foreign Language Film).

Many of the supremely gifted actors performed the high-wire stunts themselves, even high up in the trees and the lyrical choreography matches the setting.

Famed warriors Li Mu Bai (Chow Yun Fat) and Yu Shu Lien (Michelle Yeoh) go after a mystery thief (Zhang Ziyi) who turns out to be a surprisingly accomplished foe who has stolen Li Mu Bai's legendary sword - the Green destiny.


In the process, audiences are treated to some of the most astonishing sequences by action choreographer Yuen Wo Ping (who also worked on Drunken Master (1978), The Matrix (1999), The Matrix Reloaded (2003), The Matrix Revolutions (2003), Kill Bill: Volume 1 (2003), Kill Bill: Volume 2 (2004), The Forbidden Kingdom (2008) and Ip Man 3 (2015)).

Many of the supremely gifted actors performed the high-wire stunts themselves, even high up in the trees and the lyrical choreography matches the setting.


While the exhilarating and gravity-defying fights on rooftops and treetops remain one of the most impressive features of this film, it is the unspoken and unfulfilled love between Li Mu Bai and Yu Shu Lien that forms the emotional core which resonates most with viewers.


The hauntingly beautiful score - composed by Tan Dun, the breathtaking settings and serene natural backdrops, the dramatic intensity of its story, the committed performances by the cast and the spiritual radiance of the fight scenes make this a landmark film – and not just in the martial arts genre.

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