The dork has his say. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon   3 Disembodied Jet Wolf Heads out of Five
"Dude, just give her the comb back and maybe she'll shut the hell up."
Reviewed: Thursday, 22 March 2001

Jet Wolf Says ...
Let's not kid ourselves, it's the fighting that makes Crouching Tiger. The plot is lame and driftless, the characters are stagnant and boring, but the action is second to none.

Boy, sometimes I think it's best to see a movie without hearing a damned thing about it beforehand.

I likely wouldn't have given a whole heck of a lot of though to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, had I not been told again and again and again by friends how wonderful it was and how I just had to see it. So without doing a lot of research, I made it a point to get into the theater to see this cinematic wonder before the chance to do so has passed me by.

Little did I know, I would've missed practically nothing. Yes, I'm in the 1% or so of the population that did not like Crouching Tiger.

Which isn't to say that I would classify the movie with the Manos: The Hands of Fates of the world, far from it. I wouldn't even lump it in with Boogie Nights or Starship Troopers. Crouching Tiger isn't a BAD movie.

It just isn't a good movie either.

I'll hit the high points first, because however much I didn't like the film, they existed. The cinematography for a start was very impressive. Sweeping landscapes, good framework, all that technical jazz. The continuity director also deserves a hand. My eye was focused primarily on other things for most of the shots (as was intended), but absolutely every time I glanced around, there was the broken piece of concrete that had been shattered a minute ago. There was the discarded scabbard, the broken table. Given what must have truly been hellish fight sequences to film for all involved, to get details like this correct shows a dedication to detail that most movies don't give more than a second thought to, and I appreciated that.

And then there's the fighting.

Let's not kid ourselves, it's the fighting that makes Crouching Tiger. The plot is lame and driftless, the characters are stagnant and boring (more on both of these points in a bit), but the action is second to none. Once you get over the ridiculousness of the excessive wire work used to make the actors actually float around the screen (this took about two minutes for me to laugh at, become irritated by and then subsequently ignore, but your mileage may vary. I thank Xena for helping me to build up a tolerance to this), the fights are breathtaking and heart-pounding. I'll likely be purchasing the DVD of Crouching Tiger as soon as it's available, but I guarantee you I'll only be watching about five scenes in the entire movie.

So what was wrong with the rest of it? Put simply, it's substandard fare. When the movie was over and I was watching the credits, the first thought that came to my mind was "I could write a better story than this." Trust me, for me to think that is saying something.

I'll begin big, and that's with the plot. If you ask anybody to sum it up for you briefly yet succinctly, I give you 10 to 1 odds that they'd have trouble. That's because there is no basic plot. I spent the first half of this movie trying to figure out exactly what was supposed to be the main storyline we were following, and came up empty, finally giving up and just hoping that they'd start trying to beat the crap out of each other again soon. This, perhaps more than anything else, is a damned shame, because they had some storylines here that had great potential, if they could've just picked something and stuck with it. At some point in the film, I thought the movie was going to be about any one of the following:

Oh, and the list could go on. Now perhaps you're sitting there saying to yourself "But it was about all those things, and more!" I say to you "No it bloody well wasn't." Each of these things were a part of the movie, but not a single solitary one of them were what the movie was about. And that's what a plot is, the main story in a drama.

The main story in Crouching Tiger was "Okay, how do we get these people fighting again?"

There's a place in the movie industry for action movies. A muchly cherished niche that should be proud to have Crouching Tiger in its ranks. But to attempt to bill the movie as anything more -- a great drama, a moving love story, or any of the other hundreds of things I've seen said about it -- does a great injustice to its roots as a no-holds barred, foot stompin' good action flick.

Now the characters. I'm almost more disappointed by the characters than I am the plot (almost).

Honestly, despite all the criticism above, I didn't hate Crouching Tiger. It disappointed me, but that's not necessarily it's fault so much as my own for allowing myself to be hyped up by those around me before-hand. What is it's fault is not taking full advantage of the wonderful actors at its disposal, or the truly different and interesting plot that it could have had, if it'd just tried a little harder. Crouching Tiger suffers from that most dreaded of comments I heard while growing up: It didn't perform to its potential. And that, unfortunately, is what is truly unforgivable.

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