Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

(卧虎藏龙) (Wòhǔ Cánglóng, Taiwan, 2000)

I was hoping that viewing this a second time, I might possibly get what it is that everyone seems to like so much about this film, which I thought was pretty silly the first time I saw it. Sorry, it looks even sillier now. I had to watch it when Lee was out of the house, because she said she wasn’t going to subject herself to it again. She was wise. But since we are soldiering through all the Best Foreign Language films, all 69 of them, I felt it was my duty to see it again.

For starters, I never had much of an idea of what the hell was going on. How do these people fly? Pixie dust? It seems to be some sort of contest that can be summed up as “My kung fu is more powerful than your Wudang!” “No, my Wudang is more powerful than your kung fu!” Now let’s fly over rooftops and battle it out with this magical sword. I am guessing that this may be the Chinese equivalent of Western superhero comic books and films. Which would explain why it didn’t connect with me. I find them sadly adolescent. Sorry, Superman fans, there it is. Boring and childish macho fantasies that sell to pimply-faced boys who really, really wish they could kick some ass.

The pit, the absolute stupidest sequence in the film? When Mu Bai and Jen battle in the bamboo forest. How anyone can watch them being batted back and forth like badminton shuttlecocks without laughing their ass off is something I’ll never understand. Perching on slender bamboo stalks, like some sort of weird hummingbirds … What the fuck was that?

I will give them one thing. The wire work is extraordinary, probably the best I’ve ever seen. I watched a little of the Making Of documentary and saw how complex it was, how much all those stunts had to be rehearsed and performed by the actual stars, not stunt doubles. Chow Yun-Fat and Michelle Yeoh did excellent work. It was also very pretty to look at. But don’t try to explain its attraction. I’ll just never get it.