During China's Tang dynasty the emperor has taken the princess of a neighboring province as wife. She has borne him two sons and raised his eldest. Now his control over his dominion is complete, including the royal family itself.
During the Japanese invasion of 1937, when a wealthy martial artist is forced to leave his home and work to support his family, he reluctantly agrees to train others in the art of Wing Chun for self-defense.
In 19th century Qing Dynasty China, a warrior gives his sword, Green Destiny, to his friend to deliver to safe keeping, but it is stolen, and the chase is on to find it. The search leads to the House of Yu where the story takes on a whole different level.Written by
This was the highest-grossing foreign language movie in American film history. See more »
(at around 40 mins) When Jen and her mother are receiving wedding gifts from Sir Te with Shu Lien, the two older women are chatting with Jen standing plainly in the back of the room, facing the two women. In the next shot, Jen is seen turning to face the room from the balcony. See more »
Master Li is here! Master Li is here!
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The opening title appears in Chinese and English. See more »
The Taiwanese VCD for this movie was dubbed. Mandarin Chinese was not the first language for Chow Yun-Fat and Michelle Yeoh, and it showed in the original movie. This version dubbed them over with native speakers. It can also be distinguished by the addition of background noise such as grunts during the fights. See more »
What people who aren't Chinese and who don't know much about Chinese culture fail to understand, is that the warrior mythology portrayed in films like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Hero has its roots in a particular genre of fiction that has been around much longer than television or film.
Having grown up reading a bunch of these stories of epic fantasy, I remember being surprised when I went to watch CTHD in the theaters, and saw the audience break out in laughter at the flying stunts. I suppose the concept probably does seem ridiculous to foreigners.
The whole deal with the flying is this:
In the stories, the world of "Giang Hu" mentioned in CTHD is the unconventional part of society in which the characters that practice high transcendent martial arts exist. "Giang Hu" literally translates to something like "lakes and rivers", which kind of is a cultural allusion to the fact that most of these people wander a whole lot participating in great duels of swordsmanship and all kinds of tragic drama.
One of the forms of transcendent martial arts is "chin guon", which translates to something like "the art of lightness". It's a skill that these warrior folk develop from a young age using various methods that make it so they can move as if they were light as a feather. I think the idea is that they're trained so that they progressively have less and less of a perception of their own weight, and thus they can run up walls and fly across rooftops in style.
There's another type of martial art which involves transmitting "chi" (spiritual essence or whatever you want to call it) through your hands or fingertips and into the pressure points of others, either doing them harm, rendering them unable to move, or restoring some of their strength.
If you don't understand that it's another culture's fiction/mythology and can't get over that it defies known physics and medicine etc., well, too bad.
At the same time, look at acupuncture. Millions swear by the benefits of acupuncture. Hell, my father had a stroke that paralyzed half his face and went to four separate doctors. They couldn't do a damn thing. He then went to an acupuncturist and after two sessions the paralysis was gone. Conventional medicine still has no idea how acupuncture could possibly work, yet a lot of doctors will accept it as a viable option. Who the hell knows, maybe once upon a time in China people could fly.
I find Chinese warrior mythology pretty interesting, and the problem is that these novels do not translate well. I'm not sure if anyone has ever tried. A lot of what goes on in them has a lot of cultural relevance and wouldn't be readily understood by certain people who have Western sensibilities. Hong Kong and Taiwan have for a couple of decades produced a lot of television shows that portray these stories, but they're mostly pretty cheesy like American soap operas.
Which is why CTHD is semi-important as a film. It's the first film to expose a lot Americans to this facet of Chinese mythology, and I hope it's not the last.
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