Posted in: 2000 Eyes, by Robert Horton, Film Reviews

2000 Eyes: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

[Written for The Herald]

Once upon a time, the Oscars used to give out awards for “Dance Direction.” These days the art of choreography goes mostly unnoticed at Academy Award time.

They should revive the award, or invent a new one, for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The award wouldn’t be for dancing, per se, but for the beautifully choreographed martial arts scenes in this hugely enjoyable movie. The fight choreographer is Yuen Wo-Ping, who also designed the kung fu action in The Matrix. His work here is literally breathtaking.

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Posted in: 2000 Eyes, by Bruce Reid, Film Reviews

2000 Eyes: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

[Written for The Stranger]

The courtyards and compounds on display in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon pare elegant yet stifling domains, warmly beautiful but so hushed you can practically see the sounds being absorbed into the darkly lacquered wood. There’s no surprise, in these places, that legendary Wudan warrior Li Mu Bai (Chow Yun Fat) can never declare his love for fellow martial-arts expert Yu Shu Lien (Michelle Yeoh). When Li arrives at the home of his longtime friend and confesses to her that he’s retiring because his efforts to achieve enlightenment failed (his meditations instead leading him only to “a place of deep silence”), he might be describing the very room that holds their conversation, or even the conversation itself—a series of palpable desires and simmering glances whose meanings are left unspoken.

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Posted in: by Robert Horton, Contributors, Film Reviews

Review: The Assassin

Shu Qi

It’s been eight years since Taiwanese master Hou Hsiao-hsien released a feature (his lone European project, Flight of the Red Balloon). Much of that time was spent on the sheer physical effort of mounting a meticulous period piece, a film that would find the arthouse filmmaker indulging in his first martial-arts picture. Well. One can only pity the unsuspecting chopsocky fan who wanders into The Assassin after spotting the groovalicious poster, which features Transporter star Shu Qi brandishing a dagger. The scenes of swordplay are brief, clean, and void of fun. They are a momentary distraction from the film’s real concern, which is something to do with emptiness and regret.

The time is the 9th century. A young woman, Nie Yinniang (Shu), has been trained in isolation as an assassin.

Continue reading at Seattle Weekly