Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

Rated 4.0 Taiwan-born director Ang Lee and frequent collaborator James Schamus describe this elegant fantasy as “Sense and Sensibility with martial arts.” In ancient China, two Wudan warriors Li Mu Bai (Chow Yun-Fat) and Yu Shu Lien (Michelle Yeoh) try to retrieve a stolen legendary sword and befriend a young female martial arts practitioner who becomes wedged between forces of good and evil. Social codes and restraints clash with personal loyalty and desire, and combatants literally fly lithely on their feet across rooftops and water in an 18th-century Never Never Land of exotic swordplay. The film’s duplicitous identities and agendas, historic melodrama and comic relief bring to mind a feminist Zorro as martial arts combat becomes the extension of character and metaphysical belief.