As with Slumdog Millionaire, so too here: a director who made his reputation in the West plunders the genre treasures of Asia. At least for Ang Lee it was a homecoming: he was born and raised in Taiwan before going to college in Illinois and earning acclaim with The Wedding Banquet and Sense and Sensibility. In collaboration with a starry cast (Chow Yun-fat, Michele Yeoh, Chang Chen, Cheng Pei-pei) and the superb martial-arts choreographer Yuen Wo-ping — the movie’s true hidden dragon — Lee created a blend of Eastern physical dexterity and Western intensity of performance, where high art met high spirits on the trampoline of an elaborate plot. Both a powerful film and a terrific movie, Crouching Tiger became North America’s all-time highest-grossing foreign-language release… unless you include the Aramaic-and-Latin The Passion of the Christ.
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