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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

It's a Jungle Out There

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon on IMDb

Plot Overview

A little psychological backstory helps set the stage for the action to come. German psychologist Alfred Adler has said (in 1933) “that women also have masculine goals if they are unwilling to accept their sex rôle. Some desire power, knowledge or strength as an expression of the masculine ideal. … Woman now seeks to obtain equal rights with man, if she does not strive for superiority as over-compensation for her past subjection. Man fears to lose the superiority which was assumed to belong to his sex” (48, 97).

spice bottlesIn 19th century China a rich family's governess Jade Fox (Pei-Pei Cheng) having dabbled in mundane martial arts disguised her­self as a man to enter the male-exclusive, elite Wu Dan fighting school. The master of the school discovering her sex had his way with her but didn't respect her as a combatant, so she poisoned him and stole his secret training manual. Being illiterate she had her young charge read the code and become her apprentice in the process. The apprentice kept the best moves to herself while dreaming of becoming an adventuress like ones she'd read about in books. Jade Fox killed another Wu Dan warrior in battle leaving his ex-fiancée Yu Shu Lien (Michelle Yeoh) and his best friend Li Mu Bai (Chow Yun-Fat) grieving.

owl and booksLi Mu Bai having become the world's top martial artist has decided to renounce worldly desire so he can achieve Taoist enlightenment. He gives away his famous Green Destiny Sword, a phallic symbol no doubt, to a friend in the city. The apprentice out of penis envy steals the sword but returns it from guilt at her mentor killing a policeman. But then she must steal it again. The Wu Dan masters spare her out of pity and hope, telling her she needs a master to teach her what can't be learned in books.

WelcomeA governor's daughter Jen (Zhang Ziyi) has her caravan waylaid by high­way­men and her comb stolen in jest by their bandit leader Lo (Chang Chen) aka Dark Cloud. They fight over this trinket used to comb her hair (think bush) and end up in his cave where they fall in love. He must return her, and then her influential parents arrange a fitting marriage for the girl with a “sycophant bureaucrat.” She is most unhappy with the arrangement and flees her wedding chamber. Yu Shu Lien and Li Mu Bai take the star-crossed lovers under their wing hiding them in a temple until they can work out their limited options.


Jen is in a most vulnerable position not only for having disrespected her folks big time but she'd diminished their social standing in the community. In biblical terms it's like, (Prov. 30:17) “The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it.” If our mind does not automatically gravitate to that proverb, the movie jogs our memory in a flash­back where Jen is trans­ported on horse­back to a cave, Lo hunts prey with a wicked looking falcon, and Jen ravishingly devours its catch. If they're looking for (biblical) alternatives to mutilation, there's, (Exodus 21:26) “And if a man smite the eye of his servant, or the eye of his maid, that it perish; he shall let him go free for his eye's sake.” The couple could go into servitude rather than Jen having an eye put out. Lo was already seeking a position where his criminal past would not prevent his getting hired. Jen would have to give up her lofty privileges—she'd treated servants with “childish disdain”—and become a barbarian her­self subject to every­one's whims of abuse. Lo told her, “We have a legend. Anyone who dares to jump from the mountain, God will grant his wish.”

plowingLo relates an historical precedent, and if one goes back far enough to ancestors the east and west share in common, we even find one in the Bible. (Gen. 9:18-19) “And the sons of Noah, that went forth of the ark, were Shem, and Ham, and Japheth: and Ham is the father of Canaan. These are the three sons of Noah: and of them was the whole earth over­spread.” Noah's father Lamech had (Gen. 5:29) “called his name Noah, saying, This same shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the LORD hath cursed.” After the flood one day, Noah took some leisure time, stripped down in his tent, and got drunk. Mrs Noah being a good wife made her­self scarce while Noah decom­pressed from his day's labor. She went off to visit her youngest son Ham telling him not to bother his father. Disobedient Ham came knocking and discovered Noah plastered. He went and mocked him to his two older brothers (Gen. 9:20-23). Ham was perturbed that his father had gotten naked with­out setting about to procreate as God commanded—Yes, Noah sired no more children after the flood. He also didn't like his father taking a recess from rebuilding the wrecked world. Noah's rejoinder was along the lines of, “Oy! Vey! You want we should have children and work harder? Okay, your descendants (Canaan) can be slaves to your brothers. Oy! Vey!” (Gen. 9:24-27). For the record Cush was one such son of Ham (Gen. 10:6), settling in Africa. Cush is Hebrew for black and an ancient name for Ethiopia.

In the historical context of God having just drowned the whole world for its wickedness, and going forward instituting capital punishment (Gen. 9:5), a heavy-handed discipline for gross disrespect doesn't seem so out of place. Noah did seem to have control of the animals (birds) particularly the ravens (Gen. 8:7). But rather than effecting corporal punishment he assigned extra chores.

Production Values

” (2000) was masterfully directed by Ang Lee. Its screen­play was written by Hui-Ling Wang, James Schamus, and Kuo Jung Tsai. It derives from the fourth book in the Giang Hu (Crane-Iron) Pentalogy, written by Chinese author Wang Dulu (1909–1977.) It stars Chow Yun-Fat, Michelle Yeoh and Ziyi Zhang. The casting was fitting and the acting excellent.

MPAA rated it PG–13 for martial arts violence and some sexuality. An English (and French) dubbed version was created for the home video market. The dubbed version is English-colloquial to fit the mouths lips of the speakers while the English subtitles from the inter­national trans­lators are more literal. The scenery and photog­raphy are out of this world fantastic. The fight sequences are remarkable and the ‘flying’ Super­man-like, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. It runs two hours.

Review Conclusion w/a Christian's Recommendation

CTHD should be tops on anybody's list. If you haven't seen it yet, by all means do, or see it again. It's a cinematic master­piece that pushes the epic envelope. It's easy to follow, as well.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Well done action flick. Suitability for Children: Suitable for children 13+ years with guidance. Special effects: Absolutely amazing special effects. Video Occasion: Fit For a Friday Evening. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall movie rating: Five stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture quotations from the Authorized King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Print, software.

Dreikurs, Rudolf R., M.D. Fundamentals of Adlerian Psychology. Copyright 1953 by Rudolf Dreikurs. Chicago: Alfred Adler Institute. Original material published in German in 1933. Print.