The Hollywood Reporter's Review of CTHD
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Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon By Michael Rechtshaffen

For his first Chinese-language assignment since 1994's "Eat Drink Man Woman," Ang Lee tries a little martial arts on for size with jaw- droppingly exhilarating results.

A sweeping romantic epic with a strong feminist backbone, the thoroughly entertaining "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" also happens to boast a generous offering of seriously kick-ass action sequences that make "The Matrix" seem downright quaint by comparison.

With a cast headed by genre superstars Chow Yun-Fat and Michelle Yeoh, the film is poised to conquer virtually every territory it plays in, although it could probably stand a slight trimming for North American consumption.

Screened out of competition (luckily for the others), this impressive effort from Sony Pictures Entertainment's fledgling Asian production division is set in the early 19th century, during the last great years of the mighty Qing dynasty.

Deciding to hang up his trusty sword - the mythical Green Destiny - legendary warrior Li Mu Bai (Chow) entrusts the ancient weapon to Yu Shu Lien (Yeoh), his equally skilled female partner in crime- fighting. They also share a undeclared love for each other.

It is agreed that she'll deliver the sword as a gift to Sir Te, a revered Beijing elder, and it is there she encounters the strong willed En (Gang Zip Ii), a young woman who is about to be married off, but who envies Yu's independence.

When the Green Destiny is stolen, Yu's detective work leads her to none other than the young girl, who proves to be an enormously skilled fighter trained in the ways of combat by the notorious but evasive Jade Fox.

The scenario allows for some astoundingly choreographed (courtesy of "Matrix" man Yuen Wo Ping) face-offs between the two women that simply have to be seen to be believed.

Incorporating some digital know-how from Cine Asia and Manex Visual Effects, Lee has his warriors taking their gravity-defying battles along walls, across rooftops or from treetop to treetop, making like Ninja Peter Pans.

And in between the well-placed action, there's a simple, moving poetry both in cinematographer Peter Pau's lush visuals and in the words, with writers James Schamus, Wang Hui Ling and Tsai Kuo Jung working from Wang Du Lu's novel of the same name.

Lee's cast is nimbly up to both the action and the acting, with Yeoh and Yun-Fat given the kind of opportunity to emote that hasn't to date been afforded them in their American films.

As the highly defiant En, college student Gang Zip Ii ("The Road Home") is assured a rewarding future in front of the cameras. Her potent combination of impassioned defiance and youthful innocence help give "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" both its quiet beauty and its considerable firepower.

CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON Columbia/Warner Bros. Columbia Pictures Film Production Asia and Sony Pictures Classics present in association with Good Machine International and Edko Films, Zoom Hunt production in collaboration with China Film Co- Production Corp. and Asia Union Film & Entertainment Ltd. An Ang Lee film Credits: Director: Ang Lee Screenwriters: James Schamus, Wang Hui Ling, Tsai Kuo Jung Based on the novel "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" by: Wang Du Lu Producers: Bill Kong, Hsu Li Kong, Ang Lee Executive producers: James Schamus, David Linde Director of photography: Peter Pau Production designer/Costume designer: Tim Yip Editor: Tim Squyres Action choreographer: Yuen Wo Ping Music: Tan Dun Cast: Li Mu Bai: Chow Yun-Fat Yu Shu Lien: Michelle Yeoh En: Gang Zip Ii Lo: Chang Chen Sir Te: Lung Sihung Jade Fox: Cheng Pei Pei Running time - 120 minutes