Thursday, November 6, 2008
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is an Ang Lee film that visually represents the world of wuxia. Wuxia is a blend of martial arts, warriors, magic, and mythical swords. CTHD in a way is similar to one of Gordon Chan’s films, Painted Skin or Wa Pei (Hua pi), which was released recently in September. Similar to Crouching, Tiger Hidden Dragon, Painted Skin is also a martial arts and swordplay film. These two films are different in plot, timeline and characters. Yet, the similarity between them is significant: for instance, they both possess the mythical sword. In CTHD, the Green Destiny Sword is indestructible in term of cutting metals, and in Painted Skin, the Mythical Sword is a very powerful weapon when it is used against ghosts and monsters. When I made the comparison between these two films, I noticed that the director’s intentions for these movies are made for the western audiences.
After viewing CTHD, one of the topics that we discussed in class was why this particular film did not make a good profit when screened in China and Hong Kong, but on other hand did an excellent job in the United States. Besides the copies of pirated disks flowing around in the street, the reason that this film didn’t make a lot of profit in China and Hong Kong is because this is just a typical Chinese swordplay film with the influence of the Western story line. When it comes to swordplay or action films, the Chinese audience seems to pay high emphasis on the action. Without a doubt, this film has done an excellent job in term of cinematography, acting, music and costume, but it does somehow lack the action scenes. Furthermore, the fact that this film wasn’t dubbed into Mandarin was a major disappointment for the Chinese-speaking audiences. Because this film has acquired the actors and actresses from different places such as Hong Kong, Taiwan and Malaysia, therefore, most of them do not speak the same standard Mandarin. An example of this is Li Mu Bai, played by Chow Yun Fat in the film, who was criticized for speaking Mandarin with a Cantonese accent. The question arises, why didn’t they just dub the movie into Mandarin in the first place? Now that I’ve seen it, it has made it much clearer that this is a transnational film.
Director Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon has done an excellent job in creating a bridge between Eastern and Western cinema. The success of CTHD has not only opened up a door for many eastern films, but increased the popularity of Chinese wuxia films in the western world, where they were previously little known.
(Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 臥虎藏龍, dir. Ang Lee 李安, 2000)