Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, based on the book by Du Lu Wang
9 out of 10
Crouching Tiger has caused a sensation when it was launched, in 2000, winning 4 Oscars, Golden Globes, BAFTAs and many other coveted awards.
It has indeed a mesmerizing story, although a sardonic critic might still dismiss, at least some parts of it, as cartoonish and far fetched.
After all, when have you last seen people fighting and flying over bamboo forests, and not just once, but as on a regular Wednesday habit.
That was the cynical view, for in fact, the fantasy associated with these flights adds to the charm, originality, creative value of the film , rather than substract from it.
Furthermore, the introduction sets the stage for a different world, a transformed reality, the importance of meditation, martial arts, mind power in this very intriguing, unusual motion picture.
Yun-Fat Chow is master swordsman Li Mu Bai, who talks early on to Yu Shu Lien aka Michelle Yeoh about his isolation, period of meditation in a retreat, where he could not spend more time.
For an absorbed meditation, he would need to be detached from the world, cut all ties and immerse in the infinite, sublime to reach what would be called Nirvana, although not in his religion.
The reason why he could not be absorbed in the absolute, away from the world of the mere mortals is his love for Yu Shu, which he has not confessed.
Sir Te, the elder that has an important position in the hierarchy of the place is sure of his affection and jokes with the woman, stating that Li Mu Bai would soon come clean, or else he would intervene.
However, other important incidents interfere, for a precious sword is stolen and a police inspector is killed.
He had come from a Chinese province, where the infamous Jade Fox had killed his wife and committed many other vicious crimes.
When she was tracked down, she fought with ferocity and killed the investigator, reproaching her protégé for all this clash that forces her to hide and live in danger.
Jiao Long is portrayed by Ziyi Zhang, the actress that for some reason I thought was involved in the recent financial scandal, wherein the Chinese authoritarian officials have made her disappear for months, only to state that she owes the public purse over one hundred million dollars in unpaid taxes.
It could have been another star - it must be an acclaimed artist, or else they would not talk of that vast sum, just in taxes- but I for one never believe what authorities in a tyrannical state say...in fact, I mostly think it is the opposite.
In our communist system, and I am sure this is good for Red China, we had this joke-question for Radio Yerevan:
Is it true that Mr. Popescu has been given a white Dacia (the local car brand)?
No, it is not a car, it is a bicycle, it is not white, it is black and it was not given to him, it was taken away from him.
Jiao Long steals the precious sword, for she has been influenced by the villainous Jade Fox and the young, attractive woman is using the wrong role model for her path in life.
She would fight with master Li Mu Bai and he sees the extraordinary talent, the fabulous skill she has with these flights in the bamboo forest, over houses and all, and he thinks she could become his disciple.
The proud, arrogant young woman rejects the offer with utter disdain.
She would travel in the country and boast that she is not a pupil of the great Li Mu Bai, as people assume, after they see the destruction she causes, but that master is her defeated enemy...
There are many scenes of beautiful, astounding martial arts that go beyond the mere skilled conflict seen in other, more modest features.
The clashes become a wonderful, superb ballet, in which all possible weapons look like being used, from small arrows to swords and various complicated tools of the trade.
Humor has its place when the apparently innocent, naive girl is challenged by various strong, massive men, sure that they can destroy her if they just puff once, only to see that they are no match for the stupendous Godess of Battle.
Indeed, she does not defeat just one or two opponents, she appears to be able to take on a whole army, crushing maybe more than fifty fighters and at the end, the building where they battled is slowly crumbling as a result of the fantastic- literally- power of this small figure.
Apart from the love story between Li Mu Bai and Yu Shu Lien, there is a tumultuous affair involving Jiao Long and Dark Cloud, although the latter couple start on war path and only after serious disputes become lovers.
The film is spectacular and thought provoking.
Studies with monks and people who mediate for more than three hours every day have shown that their minds are capable of incredible accomplishments.
One of the cases that comes to mind has a well known polemicist facing a meditator that has gained such a control over his mind that he has managed to deflate, render the man that would dispute with anyone, communicate with adversity, combat with extraordinary vigor rather tame and harmless for the Big Warrior found that he could not oppose the Bright Luminous Meditative Mind.