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Best Shot Visual Index: Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon (2000)

I was so certain that I owned Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon that I didn't bother to rent it at all for this week's Hit Me With Your Best Shot episode. Come Tuesday night I discover that my dvd had vanished into the clouds after apparently leaping from its perch near the top of the dvd shelf. Worse still it's not available for rental on iTunes or Amazon but only for purchase and if I'm going to purchase something I still want the physical object. Old school! Which means that I will be late yet again with my own entry as the host which is all but inexcusable but par for the course this week (experiencing meltdowns backstage - this too shall pass?). But an unexpected development, just this week the sequel -- the reason we were doing this, was moved back to 2016 from its expected August bow.

But please do visit these articles elsewhere on Ang Lee's much Oscar nominated, much earning, much ripped off classic. I know I will. The film won 4 Oscars including cinematography for Peter Pau and probably just missed the Best Director win too since Ang Lee took the Globe, DGA and BAFTA that year. Imagine if he'd taken the Oscar that year. He'd have 3 wins by now.

(click on the pics for corresponding articles)

 Almost like Cupid’s arrow...?
-I Am Derreck 

When you look at this image, you could easily mistake the film for a traditional Western... 
-Film Actually  

That Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon focuses on the traditionally Chinese conflict between reason (li) and emotion (qing) is unsurprising, the way the movie expresses the conflict through images, however, is anything but. 
- Coco Hits NY

 If I made a list of ‘top 10 overrated movies’ this would definitely make that list...
-54 Disney Reviews

a portrayal of love as the light in the darkness...
-Antagony & Ecstacy 

Lee's romanticism is also utilized simply to make interesting, unexpected choices... 
-The Entertainment Junkie

Honestly, it’s not a surprise that this is the same director as Brokeback Mountain when you come to think of it, since it’s clear that the man knows how to make emotional self-imprisonment believable and dangerous...
-Movie Motorbreath 

It's all about Zhang Ziyi. For someone so small, she has immense screen presence...
-Sorta That Boy 

Where is Michelle Yeoh's international superstardom?
-Paul Outlaw

And finally...

Nathaniel's Placeholder Best Shot
For the record, in closing, this is the single image that my mind races to first when I am reminded of the film. I'm not saying it will be my "best" upon a close rewatch inspection, but I remember the whole scene vividly and fondly and the entire movie felt this way to me the first time I saw it; a magical film transcending the standard laws, balancing delicately and easily in the treetops while breathing rarified instant-classic air.

I'll update this list when more articles come in including my own - you should still join us since the sequel is delayed and we can continue to add articles. Perhaps I'll choose a shot from each half hour as penance? It's been so long since I've seen it and I'm eager to have it memorized again before the possibly ill advised sequel arrives which is no longer next month but early 2016.

Sunset Blvd (1950). But you can't choose the infamous "close-up" for Mr DeMille at film's end so if that's your shot your choice must be "second best shot". I am starting on this one FRIDAY so that there is no way in hell I'll be late for my own event next Wednesday. If you've always wanted to try "best shot," here's you classic opportunity with a film from Old Hollywood about Even Older Hollywood that nonetheless never gets old. 

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Reader Comments (11)

Wow! I forgot how beautiful this movie is.

July 8, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBVR

Nathaniel, you stole my best shot in your write-up for this post! The dive that Ziyi takes off the edge of the cliff is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.

July 9, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterCarl

The beauty of this movie is ridiculous. Looking forward to reading these write-ups, and to Sunset Boulevard next week! (can you believe I've never seen it?)

July 9, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterCoco

That bamboo forest shot is exactly the one I expected to pick before I went to all the trouble of re-watching the movie. So I'm right with you on that one.

Meanwhile, I am figuratively hopping from one foot to the other while clapping my hands, I'm so effing excited for Sunset Blvd.

July 9, 2015 | Registered CommenterTim Brayton

Although it is a visually stunning movie, I like how martial artists in the China area practice perfection in everything they do.
Self-improvement, day in and day out… Striving to be better than, they were the last time.
I don't know, just my $.02 :-)

Back in 2000 I wasn't able to see this movie until months and months of hype had gone by and by the time I caught up with it I found it pretty overrated.

Then I watched it a second time not too long ago, and not only have I come around, I now find it morbidly underrated.

So much humanity and wisdom and complexity packed in amid the stunning visuals and breathtaking dynamism.

Second viewings should be mandatory for films like this.

Meantime I keep forgetting that Ang Lee did this *and* Brokeback *and* Sense and Sensibility *and* Lust Caution. It's weird but even though that's four separate films I adore by the same director, he is never among the first to come up whenever I try to actually name my favourite working directors. It's because I always struggle to associate him with a specific directorial voice.

There's obviously a strong thematic consistency among those films, which works as an authorial stamp, and there's even some commonalities in style. But I still find it hard to slot them all together in my brain under the same 'name' in a way I never do with other, sometimes lesser directors.

July 9, 2015 | Unregistered Commentergoran

goran -- that's a great point. I almost never think of him as one of my favorite directors either which is crazy since I love his movies. This is the same fate that befell William Wyler I think who is so great with actors and with storytelling but whose stamp is less than obvious, i.e. he stays invisible and serves the incredible movies.

but yeah. Ang Lee has so many great films. I love him. The weird thing is that i think Life of Pi is a total weak spot on his filmography and it won him an Oscar. (sigh)

July 9, 2015 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Just sent you my shot!

July 9, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

Oh god I adore William Wyler too. It's funny, when I was younger and watched several of his films in a short span (Dodsworth, Little Foxes, Wuthering Heights) I felt he very much had a distinctive sensibility for the most part (I refuse to acknowledge he made Ben Hur) - a certain elegance, and subtlety and a weird watery/cleansed feeling I can't quite properly put into words, but I remember it vividly still.

I revisited Little Foxes quite recently and though I loved it even more than I used to - in fact, that's another thing I struggle to put into words, how much I love that movie - but anyway, though I loved it, it definitely didn't give me that 'watery/lucid' feeling I remembered from Wyler films. I wonder how much I projected it when I was younger (I'm talking teens), or how much I'm blind to it now that I'm not so young (I refuse to acknowledge my age, especially with a birthday hovering in the far too near future).

But yeah, all in all, I definitely get the comparison between Wyler and Lee, and even though the showier, brash auteurs make me gush more readily, I definitely see these two as great artists in their own right. And I refuse to talk about Life of Pi (or Ben Hur). (Damn Ampass.)

July 9, 2015 | Unregistered Commentergoran

I was so looking forward to participating this week, as Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon is one of my all-time favorite movies. I still remember seeing it in the theater and what a magical, thrilling experience it was. It's still completely unique - there is nothing else quite like it. But I sat down to watch it the other night and to my complete shock I couldn't pick a Best Shot. Not because there are so many to pick from (although there are), but because I found myself completely unable to turn on any of my critical faculties. The film occupies this weird place for me in that I love it deeply but haven't actually watched it a whole lot of times, so it still feels not completely familiar, even on very basic levels. After I finished watching it once and was too caught up in it to even remember that I was watching it FOR THIS, I tried going back to individual scenes to pick a shot and EVEN THEN I couldn't do it, everything is so thoroughly mesmerizing. And then, the one time I was actually successful in getting some screenshots (the restaurant fight), I had half a dozen shots that I couldn't possibly choose just one of. So for the first time in my history of doing this, I gave up. I admit defeat. Curse you, Ang Lee! Your movie is just too good!

July 9, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

denny - i love this story.

goran - glad to be understood here. I love Little Foxes too

July 9, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

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