Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

Bomb Rating: 

"Hidden Zebra, Squatting What?"

What the hell is that title all about, and how am I supposed to remember it? First of all, let's imagine for a second that you liked this film and you go to tell a friend about it, and that friend says, "Hidden Zebra, Squatting What?" So you have to keep repeating "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" to anyone who you tell the film about. You'd think director Ang ("Sense and Sensibility") Lee could have come up with a simpler title, like "Kick Ass Bitches." I guarantee you that everybody would remember the title "Kick Ass Bitches."

The fact that Ang Lee was born in Taiwan is no excuse for this film's failure to connect with American audiences. He speaks really good English and has made numerous movies in the English language. The film's stars -- Chow Yun Fat and Michelle Yeoh -- both speak English. Yet this film is in Chinese, forcing those of us with barely enough patience to refrain from strangling the ticket-taker for ripping tickets too slowly to actually read subtitles. For God's sake, we live in the age of the computer! We have cell phones small enough to hide between our butt cheeks. Do we really still need to employ semivertebrates to rip our tickets before we go into a movie??

But I digress. If Chow Yun Fat is too damn lazy to speak a little English, then get George Clooney to dub his voice over. That'll show Chow. This movie is what Lee refers to as "Sense and Sensibility" with Kung Fu. I think he missed a grand opportunity here, because I really could have gone for Emma Thompson putting her foot through Kate Winslet's face. In this film, however, you have Lu Mu Bai (Chow Yun Fat) giving up a sword called the Green Destiny so he can reflect on life -- or something stupid like that. He leaves it with his friend, Yu Shu Lien (Michelle Yeoh), to give to Sir Te (Lung Sihung). Sir Te takes the sword, but it's promptly stolen. We soon discover the thief to be Jen (Zhang Ziyi) and that her governess is none other than Jade Fox (Cheng Pei Pei), the woman who killed Mu Bai's master.

There is a whole lot of chick-fighting in this film, accompanied by a whole lot of chick-longing. Jen longs for some guy she meets in the desert. Shu Lien longs for Mu Bai. When they're not longing, they kick a lot of ass. Unfortunately, they do a lot of this ass-kicking while flying through the air like kites. Maybe this has something to do with Chinese opera and maybe this is traditional for martial arts movies, but that doesn't mean it doesn't look awful damn silly. Think of Superman, and you get an idea of what it looks like. Unfortunately, when I think of Superman I think of Christopher Reeves and that horrible raspy noise he makes all the time now, which does not lend itself particularly tidily to Kick Ass Bitch fantasies.

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