HomeUncategorizedSynopsis & Review Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) A young warrior, steals a sword belonging to a famous warrior, Li Mu Bai

Synopsis & Review Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) A young warrior, steals a sword belonging to a famous warrior, Li Mu Bai

Synopsis & Review Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) A young warrior, steals a sword belonging to a famous warrior, Li Mu Bai

Jen Yu, a young swordsman, stole a sword that belonged to a famous swordsman, Li Mu Bai. Together with Yu Shu Lien, Li Mu Bai pursues Jen Yu who uncovers old grudges against Jade Fox and hidden romance between the two of them. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is a silat film that opened the eyes of the world, especially Hollywood, to the beauty of martial arts from Chinese cinema.

Based on the novel by Wang Dulu which was published as a serial between 1941 and 1942, this film broke many records, most notably for being the foreign language film with the most Academy Award nominations. This co-production of four countries, namely Taiwan, China, Hong Kong and America, is still considered the best silat film ever produced.

In addition to being successful in quality, this film was also a commercial success. From circulation in American theaters alone, this film has been recorded as a box-office with revenues of $ 128 million since its limited release on December 8, 2000 which was then followed by a wide release in more than 2,000 cinema screens. If the total income outside America, this film has won $ 213 million from a budget of only $ 17 million.

Before re-watching this film on Netflix which is already available and its sequels, check out our review first about this film that uses the beauty of Mount Cangyan National Park as a shooting location for Mount Wudang.


China in the 19th century under the rule of the Qing Dynasty, a respected warrior named Li Mu Bai went down the mountain to meet his friend, Yu Shu Lien, a female warrior who now owns a security company. Li Mu Bai intends to retire as a warrior and entrust his Green Destiny sword to be kept in Beijing with their friend, Lord Te.

Arriving in Beijing, the sword was stolen by a warrior who had fought with Yu Shu Lien. But this warrior managed to escape. Li Mu Bai followed to Beijing and helped Yu Shu Lien find his sword back. Yu Shu Lien is suspicious of Jen Yu, the governor’s daughter who is about to be married off and her nanny who turns out to be a Jade Fox.

One night there was a fight between the Jade Fox and the police chief from another area who came with his daughter to seek revenge. When they were cornered, Li Mu Bai came and almost beat the Jade Fox who turned out to be the killer of his teacher if only a mysterious female warrior with the Green Fate sword came and took the Jade Fox away.

Jen, who turns out to be a mysterious sword-stealing female swordsman, is about to return the sword and meets Li Mu Bai who wants to take her as his disciple. Lo, the leader of the desert rogues, sneaks in to meet Jen and begs her not to marry and to go with him. But Jen refuses. The next day, Lo creates a scene at Jen’s wedding procession.

Li Mu Bai and Yu Shu Lien rescued Lo after understanding how he felt. Li Mu Bai asked Lo to wait for Jen at Mount Wudang, while the two of them chased after Jen who returned to steal the Green Fate sword and leave Beijing. In her wanderings, Jen fights with various warriors and always wins thanks to the height of her knowledge and the Green Destiny sword in her hand.

Jen meets Yu Shu Lien to apologize, but when Yu Shu Lien asks Jen to follow Lo to Mount Wudang, Jen feels that their life has been interfered with. Finally, Jen and Yu Shu Lien had a great fight and made Yu Shu Lien injured. This angered Li Mu Bai who managed to meet Jen and fight with him.

When Li Mu Bai threw the Green Fate sword into the waterfall, Jen caught up and drowned, but was saved by the Jade Fox who nursed her. But when Li Mu Bai manages to get to the Jade Fox’s hideout, he finds Jen under anesthesia. Suddenly the Jade Fox attacked with poison needles. Even though he was killed, one of the poisoned needles hit Li Mu Bai.

The poison that quickly spreads in the body and attacks the heart only takes two hours to kill. Jen asked Yu Shu Lien’s permission to mix the antidote. But it was too late, Li Mu Bai died from poison. Jen follows Lo to Mount Wudang and jumps off a cliff to fulfill the myth of wishes coming true. You can see Jen’s face full of calm as she plunges.

Ang Lee’s first action film

In the course of his career, this Taiwanese director has focused more on drama genre films and has been recognized for his expertise in processing and directing a drama film. Sense and Sensibility (1995) and The Ice Storm (1997) are two of his drama films which have received high praise for their quality. Meanwhile, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is his first action film.

With the help of director Yuen Woo-Ping as his martial arts choreographer, Ang Lee creates action films with amazing, beautiful and tense martial arts scenes. There are at least four exciting fight scenes in this film, between Yu Shu Lien and a mysterious, tense female warrior and between the Jade Fox and the police chief, which have a slightly comedic feel.

Then there was an emotional battle between Jen and Yu Shu Lien, followed by a fight full of beautiful nuances between Jen and Li Mu Bai where they fought on bamboo branches with bodies as light as cotton. This scene received a lot of praise and is often considered one of the best silat scenes.

Secret Love of Two Warriors

It is said that Yu Shu Lien and Li Mu Bai harbored a love between them that has not been revealed, because Yu Shu Lien was once engaged to Meng Sizhao who died in a sword fight. On several occasions, Li Mu Bai wanted to express his love but was always delayed and finally said it at the end of his life. What a tragedy.

So far, Li Mu Bai honored Yu Shu Lien’s engagement, even though this relationship failed to progress to marriage, because Meng Sizhao was their mutual friend. But when Li Mu Bai feels uneasy and wants to retire as a warrior to focus more on a normal life, all he hopes for is one thing, to love Yu Shu Lien.

Yu Shu Lien actually felt the same thing, it’s just that like most eastern women, she was unable to express her feelings. Another case that happened to the relationship between Jen and Lo. Starting from hate, they love each other. But the difference in social class between them becomes a big obstacle, as well as Jen’s dream of becoming a warrior.

In the end, this couple also had a tragic ending after being together again for a while. Jen, who has experienced many problems in her life, namely a family that is more concerned with self-image, betrayal to her teacher, makes a big problem that ends in the death of Li Mu Bai, making it seem like she is unable to love again.

The Power of Drama in a Revengeful Story

Like Chinese silat films in general, the story in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is filled with nuances of revenge. Li Mu Bai has a grudge against the Jade Fox for killing his teacher, Fox Gio has a grudge against Jen Yu because he has higher knowledge than him and Jen Yu’s grudge against his family hinders his desire to become a warrior.

All of these grudges are mixed very well in a storyline that flows smoothly and holds many mysteries that will be unlocked little by little, such as Jen Yu’s past with Lo which is told in flashbacks or from the narratives of her characters while fighting. The emotions of each character are very clear and can be felt by us.

The chemistry between Chow Yun-Fat and Michelle Yeoh is very solid and when they are having a heart-to-heart talk, the figure of a warrior with high-level martial arts skills is immediately shattered by the turmoil of pent-up love between them. And Zhang Ziyi could keep up with the two of them with his highly emotional acting full of youthful rebelliousness.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is still the best silat film with achievements that are difficult to match, even its sequel, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny (2016), which features Michelle Yeoh again paired with Donnie Yen.