Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

Hiiy- Ya! Chinese Protofeminism kicks Ass, says Janet Evans

, 16 October 2001

This film has tremendous performances from Chow Yun Fat in his first

action role and Michelle Yeoh as his star crossed lover. The fight

scenes are improbably dazzling and once again Yuen Wo Ping

choreographs the film out of its own league.

The Director, Ang Lee has made the film palatable to American and

European audiences. Check out the genre change as Jen (Zhang Ziyi)

chases her lover across the desert and the film magically becomes a


The three main female characters all centre around the figure of Li

Mu Bai (Chow Yun Fat). They all show different kinds of female role.

Wife, Daughter and the woman who is rejected by society for her

refusal to take on one of these valid roles.

Jen, the main protagonist is fighting against traditional Chinese

values in the form of an arranged marriage. She is a gifted martial

arts expert under the tuition of the rogue Jade Fox. Li Mu Bai wants

to teach her himself. He acts as a legitimator for the two women

fighters. They learn under his influence.

It is interesting to note that the ‘good’ women in the film accept

the authority of men in the form of Li Mu Bai, whereas the ‘bad’

woman, Jade Fox refuses to accept this. Jade Fox is excluded from

society for stealing secret wisdom, which has only previously been

available to Men. Jen is only allowed this knowledge when she redeems

herself by turning to her father figure Li Mu Bai. This shows

brilliantly the struggle between Chinese women and traditional

patriarchal influence. Jen keeps her femininity by having a male

lover and becoming accountable to Li Mu Bai, agreeing to be the first

woman to enter a school of fighters under his tuition.

Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon must be seen, as the film is a visual

masterpiece with amazing scenery and out of this world choreography.

It offers a high-quality, subtle plot with full character exploration,

repression and mega girlie fighter action. The film has also won

four Oscars and four Baftas, so this should be an indication of its

tremendous quality. It is also the first film to bring Chinese cinema

to western audiences on a large scale.

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