Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon—Sony Pictures Classics (Blu-ray)

Video: 3.5/5
Audio: 4.5/5
Extras: 2.5/5

Two master warriors are faced with their greatest challenge when the treasured Green Destiny sword is stolen. A young aristocrat prepares for an arranged marriage, but soon reveals her superior fighting talents and her deeply romantic past. As each warrior battles for justice, they come face to face with their worst enemy - and the inescapable, enduring power of love.

Crouching Tiger is a sweeping epic drama set in China that took audiences worldwide by storm. With critical praise it became the dark horse of the 2000 Academy Awards and walked away with four statues. With its blend of action, drama and a love story it appealed to a mass audience and wasn’t constricted to a niche audience as most martial arts films are. The film really has two main plotlines to follow; the first is that of two warriors who despite their obvious love for each other most not reveal their true feelings because of the traditions of the society around them. Then a young woman comes into their lives with a secret that will change everything. With amazing action choreography and a superb score coupled with an engaging story and beautiful cinematography it’s hard not to love this film. Although some elements of fantasy can distract at times it’s still a powerful movie that deserves its acclaim.

Sony has decided to release this film in a three pack of martial arts films. It is packaged with House of Flying Daggers and Curse of the Golden Flower. This is great if you don’t already own these other films but if you are like me you probably already own the others and turned sour when you saw you had to buy the others simply to get this classic. Hopefully Sony will eventually release a single disc edition. If you just can’t stand to buy all three but really want just Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, it can be imported from the UK as a standalone title. It is region free.

This has always been a beautifully shot film and I was anxious to see how it would look on Blu-ray. Unfortunately it didn't quite live up to my expectations. The Blu-ray looks to be sourced from a film print that shows a bit of age with some minor noise on occasion and some soft spots. Long shots look surprisingly soft for a Sony transfer and the image can be a tad bland at times. Dimensionality is still pretty strong, but depth suffers a bit. Detail in tighter shots is good and compared to the previous DVD this is a nice step up, but I couldn't help but think it should look better.

The soundtrack is presented in Dolby TrueHD and you can select from the original Mandarin dub with subtitles or an English mix. I watched the original dub but was a bit disappointed in the newer subtitles which seem to be a bit simplified compared to the ones I've seen before with the previous DVD and theatrical release. The mix itself is outstanding though. I loved the rich score and how open the mix felt. The percussion heavy soundtrack really lends to an exciting experience and the action sequences deliver some compelling sound design.

Extras include a feature commentary with the director and a look at the making of the film. You also get an interview with actress Michelle Yeoh.

It is disappointing that you have to buy a boxset to get this classic film. Again it is available as a standalone in the UK and it is easy to import. I was also disappointed that Sony didn't include the original theatrical subtitles as well. The presentation as a whole is good, but overall this feels a tad half baked.

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