Tough to think it is been almost sixteen years considering that Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) hit theaters, introducing legions of fans to Chinese wuxia films with its sturdy visual pedigree and spectacular fight choreography by Yuen Wo Ping, who had worked on The Matrix a year earlier. Yours really had no trouble enjoying this a single in the theater, as anyone with functioning eyes and ears could very easily turn into totally invested in the film’s sweeping drama, kinetic action, and excellent performances from an desirable, charismatic cast…even if they couldn’t precisely comply with the whole plot the very first time through. Honestly, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon only feels epic in scope: it is limited to only a handful of areas, and barely ten characters get far more than a couple of lines of dialogue. Defying its low price range, this emotionally intimate tale carries all the hallmarks of an ambitious period piece…plus the added bonus of foreign flair made to wow people who really ought to travel a lot more. In short, it really is a real treat for the senses.
Again, the story is deceptively straightforward: in the late 18th century, skilled swordsman Li Mu Bai (Chow Yun-fat) entrusts a potent sword to longtime warrior friend Yu Shu Lien (Michelle Yeoh), who will deliver it to their mutual friend Sir Te (Sihung Lung) in Beijing. While at Sir Te’s compound, she meets Jen Yu (Zhang Ziyi, in only her second significant film function), who’s betrothed to be married and the two swiftly kind anything of a mother-daughter relationship. But disaster strikes one night as Sir Te’s new sword—nicknamed “Green Destiny”, a stunning blade practically four centuries old—is stolen by a masked thief who may well be in league with Jade Fox (Cheng Pei-pei), a mystic who fatally poisoned Li Mu Bai’s master numerous years ago. After a police inspector (Wang Deming) and mysterious stranger Lo (Chang Chen) get involved, the thief’s correct identity—as properly as his or her motivation for stealing the Green Destiny—are revealed, and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon deepens into much more of a poetic, spiritually-driven drama.
As a younger man, it wasn’t difficult for me to get completely invested in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon for its spectacular locales, staggering action scenes, and the romantic fate of Lo and Jen that dominates the film’s second half. The initial two components hold up more than 15 years later (at least much more than the “wire-fu”, which I was by no means a massive fan of), yet I discovered myself significantly far more interested in the fate of Li Mu Bai and Yu Shu Lien this time around: they are just far more engaging characters, even even though they are routinely pushed to the background in favor of their younger and (arguably) much more eye-catching co-stars. That’s not to say that Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is ideal enjoyed by teenagers or twenty-somethings: this is quite considerably a mature, layered drama, albeit 1 created to appeal to a pretty wide audience. Of course, the fight choreography—which, to its credit, routinely pushes the story forward as an alternative of filling time—and gorgeous production design and style stay the film’s most tough highlights, not to mention stunning cinematography by Peter Pau (whose filmography also involves The Killer and Bride of Chucky, somehow) and a memorable score by Tan Dun.
The point is that Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was an important film for its time and nonetheless holds up nicely these days, even if I never like it for very as many reasons now. A true feast for the senses, it’s looked fairly excellent on home video by means of the years…and there’s been a lot of releases, from Sony’s 2001 DVD to a Superbit DVD the very same year, numerous international editions, and a 2010 Blu-ray, just to name a handful of. Things get far more complicated this year: in addition to this standard “Mastered in 4K” Blu-ray, we also get a “Supreme Cinema Series” edition (identical disc, fancier packaging) and a UHD 4K release to select from. I am pleased with this slimmed-down package, which serves up a mostly-terrific A/V presentation and lots of old and new bonus characteristics.
High quality Handle Department Video & Audio Good quality
Presented in its original two.39:1 aspect ratio, this new 1080p transfer was sourced from a current 4K master and looks really very good with 1 mild reservation. The beautifully designed sets and lush all-natural landscapes show a striking amount of image detail, texture, and wonderfully saturated colour, as do the costume styles and nicely framed close-up shots. Black levels and contrast are similarly very good, with no apparent signs of crush in the course of the frequent nighttime scenes. Although I do not have the older Blu-ray on hand for direct comparison, it really is clear that this represents the greatest that Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon has looked on the format…and unless you spring for the UHD 4K disc, the very best it is looked on house video period. Unfortunately, this is not a perfect transfer: I spotted motion blur and/or interlacing frames in the course of at least a dozen extremely short shots in numerous action scenes most of these lasted 1-two seconds apiece, for a total of perhaps 25-30 seconds in the course of the 120-minute film. Of course, this concern might not be noticeable unless you happen to be actually looking for it, and it doesn’t affect properly over 99% of the film…so I can not judge it too harshly. But it really is absolutely there and keeps Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon from scoring what may otherwise be a ideal rating.
NOTE: DISCLAIMER: The nevertheless photos and screen captures on this web page are decorative and do not represent the Blu-ray beneath overview.
The default Dolby Atmos audio track (which unfolds to a TrueHD 7.1 mix if your receiver does not help the format) adds much more than sufficient weight to give Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon a formidable presence from commence to finish. Surround activity is frequent with sturdy channel separation, lots of LFE punch, a robust dynamic range, and crystal-clear dialogue that’s balanced fairly effectively for smaller sized residence theater setups. English and French 5.1 dubs are also included for the duration of the principal feature, as effectively as English, SDH, French, Spanish, and Portuguese subtitles. Two much more bits of very good news: this disc utilizes the original English theatrical subtitles (in contrast to the previous Blu-ray, which had modified text) and all the extras have optional subtitles as well…even the commentaries.
Menu Design, Presentation & Packaging The disc interface is simply created, properly-organized, and looks excellent, similar to Sony’s recent Labyrinth Blu-ray. This 1-disc release arrives in a common keepcase with a matching slipcover and disc art a Digital Copy redemption slip is also tucked inside. The cover image is undoubtedly…uh…exciting. At least it really is not a bunch of giant floating heads, right? . Bonus Attributes
New to this release is a series of three separate Retrospective Interviews with director Ang Lee, writer/producer James Schamus, and editor Tim Squyres (81 minutes total, with optional introduction). Performed by writer Tasha R. Robinson, these enjoyable and informative interviews cover a lot of ground: the film’s improvement and reception, Ang Lee’s body of function, the language barrier, production delays, appealing to Western and Eastern audiences, and much more. Each runs roughly 20-30 minutes, permitting the respective contributors adequate time to get comfortable but not exhausted. Robinson seems properly-ready with lots of accessible but layered inquiries, which offers these interviews a fairly broad appeal for new and seasoned fans alike a handful of completed film clips, rehearsal footage, and other behind-the-scenes material are also sprinkled throughout.
Also new is a collection of six Deleted Scenes (7 minutes total), most of which offer you tiny far more than modest scene extensions. They play nicely enough on their personal…but it is clear that an extended edition wouldn’t have played any better, so I am glad they are kept separate. A vintage “The Generating of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” featurette (14 minutes), which does not seem to have been incorporated on earlier discs, provides a normal behind-the-scenes overview with quick interviews and on-set footage. Last up are two Music Videos for Coco Lee’s “A Enjoy Prior to Time” (7 minutes total), one in English and an additional in Mandarin.
Carried over from the 2010 Blu-ray are two separate Audio Commentaries (1 with director Ang Lee and writer/producer James Schamus, the other with cinematographer Peter Pau), a quick but enjoyable Michelle Yeoh Featurette (14 minutes), and a self-playing Photo Gallery of behind-the-scenes images and promotional stills with background music from the film (7 minutes).
Missing in action is the 20-minute “Unleashing the Dragon” Bravo Channel mini-doc from Sony’s earlier discs, despite the fact that the integrated (but a lot more promotional) vintage featurette serves as a decent adequate substitute. Both the domestic and international trailers—a single of which is promised on the packaging, even—are not included either, which is also a bit disappointing.
The sizable influence of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 16 years ago officially cemented director Ang Lee’s status in mainstream pop culture, exactly where the stylish drama racked up almost a dozen Academy Award nominations and enjoyed box office accomplishment throughout its extended theatrical run. Even so, I’m admittedly not amongst Crouching Tiger‘s biggest fans: its lead plot often feels like the least compelling element, and significantly of the wire-fu has usually looked much more like distracting CGI than fluid visual poetry. Yet the film’s jaw-dropping production design and style, artful compositions, terrific acting, and stunning fight choreography are still a joy to watch, making this an uncommon but entertaining diversion that I’d gladly digest every so typically. Sony’s new Blu-ray is an clear step up from their personal 2010 edition aside from a few minor visual troubles and two missing bonus attributes, this offers a notable upgrade in just about each department. It really is Extremely Recommended for die-difficult fans of the film, but slightly less so for every person else.
Randy Miller III is an affable workplace monkey by day and film reviewer by evening. He also does freelance design work, teaches art classes and runs a website or two. In his limited free of charge time, Randy also enjoys slacking off, juggling HD DVDs, and writing in third individual.