The film costars Hong Kong superstar Chow Yun-fat as Li Mu Bai, a 19th century Qing dynasty swordsman who ends up embroiled in a romantic adventure involving lots of gravity-defying, fantastically coordinated fight sequences. The movie also features Zhang Ziyi as a governor’s daughter secretly determined to become a martial artist, and Chang Chen as the bandit who loves her.
“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” is not just a much-loved 21st-century classic, but also a milestone in Lee’s career; five years later, the filmmaker went on to win Best Director at the Academy Awards for “Brokeback Mountain,” but it was this surprise blockbuster, with its aerial stunts and swooning romance, that made him a household name for many. “When people fight, I treat it like a conversation, like a verbal drama,” Lee told Entertainment Weekly for the film’s 20th anniversary. “There’s a relationship, a development going on, there’s conflict.”
Two decades after its release, “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” has the chance to reach a whole new generation of moviegoers when it leaps back into theaters on February 17, 2023.