Monday, January 13, 2020


by Adam Riske
Nominated for “Favorite Action Team (Internet Only)” at the Blockbuster Entertainment Awards.

Welcome to 2K Replay, the home of the year 2000 in film. This month I’m revisiting the movie a friend at my fraternity paid tribute to with a desktop screensaver: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

• Best Scene/Moment: The sword fight between Michelle Yeoh and Zhang Ziyi.

• Best Food: A tie between Zhang Ziyi eating chicken in a cave and ordering shark fin soup in a restaurant.

• Best Song: “Farewell” by Tan Dun and Yo-Yo Ma

• Best Merch Available on eBay Right Now: A letter opener made to look like the Green Destiny sword complete with a scabbard for only $15!
• Director Check: After success with independent and period-costume dramas, this was the movie that gave Ang Lee freedom to make whatever he wanted for a while. Left to that device, he usually makes something confounding (e.g. Hulk after Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon or Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk after Life of Pi). Lee has made a couple good/great movies since Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Life of Pi, Brokeback Mountain), but is now seen as less consistent than he was earlier in his career. He’s no longer a director whose every movie is a must-see.

• Double It with This 2000 Movie: Yi Yi (dir: Edward Yang)

• Year 2000 Movies to Trailer Before It: Romeo Must Die, Shanghai Noon, Charlie’s Angels

• Poster Score: Frameable

Draft Day or Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon? Draft Day

• Grab Bag Video:

This video game looks dope. I can’t wait for September 2003!

• How Did It Rent at Blockbuster? My memory is that it rented well but wasn’t ever completely out of stock. It’s probably because this was when people were just as excited about buying DVDs (it was a popular purchase). Also, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon had a hit theatrical and awards season run, so there appeared to be a minor level of burnout by the time of its home release.

• Mall Movie? Martial Arts movies typically are, but this was presented as being classy and arthouse (e.g. it’s a Sony Pictures Classics release). The mall might have gotten it post-Oscars at the end of its theatrical run.

• Only in 2000: The shuttery frame rate effect in the middle of some action sequences. For the most part, these scenes are beautifully staged in wide-angles and medium shots but occasionally there’s a few frames where it looks sped up or tweaked.
• Scene Stealer: Bo (Gao Xi’an). He pops up throughout the movie as some sort of security personnel. He seems like a solid dude.

• I Miss: The days when a foreign-language martial arts movie could make over $128M domestically and become a zeitgeist conversation topic among moviegoers that usually didn’t see martial arts or foreign films.

• I Don’t Miss: Some of the wire-work in the action sequences. I think they’re great when the moves are smaller (hand-to-hand or sword fighting), but the whole flying across rooftops and trees hasn’t aged well.
• 2000 Crush: Zhang Ziyi. I was pretty sure loving me was the course correction her character needed.

• 2020 Crush: The courtship of Michelle Yeoh and Chow Yun-fat. There’s nothing more fetching than two damaged adults tentatively in love.

• What I Thought in 2000: I was very much in the bag for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.  remember it being either my favorite or second favorite movie of that year. I saw it twice in theaters and owned it on DVD. In 2000, I wished it took Best Picture over Gladiator at the Academy Awards.

• What I Think in 2020: I still like it quite a bit. I wasn’t expecting it to hold up as well as it has. Good drama will always be good drama.


  1. --Draft Day or Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon? Draft Day

    Oh, come on! :-D

    Zhang Ziyi was a doll, but man! I hated that lengthy flashback in the middle when her character was kidnapped and raped (but not really, because Jiao Long wanted it to happen... the fuck!?!?!) by that warrior dude. Talk about a momentum-killing, character-advancing side plot. :-(

    As much as I can take or leave Ang Lee as a director, gotta appreciate the man still embracing and pushing high frame rate technology on some of his current work. It made "Gemini Man" a lot more entertaining than it had any right to be, but it was wasted on "Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk." Even Peter Jackson abandoned HFR, and he invented/pushed it for his "Hobbit" trilogy.

  2. Amazingly I met Zhang Ziyi during her final jump. I was hangliding. But she broke up with me after making Horsemen with D-Quaid. The movie that changed us all.

  3. I'm excited about this new column, Adam! Congrats!!! <3

  4. Great article, Adam! Looking forward to more, as always.

    The Crouching Tiger DVD was the one where I first discovered the "DVD double dip" phenomenon, where one DVD had way more bonus features than the other, right next to each on the store shelves. And, yes, I still have that DVD.

  5. This is such a fun article! I never saw this movie and it's one I know I need to catch up with.

    All the little sections of this are great, especially the eBay merch!

  6. I re-watched this about a year ago, but only had the time to watch half, and never got around to finishing it. That was more due to poor organization on my part, than any boredom with the movie itself. This article is a good reminder that I need to finish it! (starting again at the beginning, I guess)

    This movie came out during a very brief period when my parents, who never normally go to the movies, and rarely watch them at home either, had made acquaintances with an "high art loving" neighbor who took them to see it. Totally not their style, but I remember them liking and talking about it. That might have just been to impress the neighbor, I don't really remember. The other movie they went to see was The Red Violin. That might have been the only 2! As I said, it was a brief period.

    Thanks for the good read Adam!