In Qing Dynasty China, legendary zen warrior Li Mu Bai (played by Chow Yun Fat) returns to Beijing after a period of meditation. Famous throughout China for his adventures, Li tasks fellow fighter Yu Shu Lien (by Michelle Yeoh) with the safe delivery of his treasured 400 year old sword “Green Destiny” to a trusted friend. She does, but the sword is stolen and Yu is witness to a mysterious martial arts Master making an escape with it. She is suspicious of a young aristocrat Jen (by ZiYi Zhang) who is in Court to prepare for her wedding to a nobleman. Although she seems sweet, there is something strange about Jen and her curious governess (by Pei-Pei Cheng), so Yu befriends Jen, who admires Yu’s strength, skill and independence. She confirms that Jen is somehow mixed up in the disappearance of Green Destiny. Li and Yu must find the missing sword and Li seeks revenge for the death of his Master by his arch-enemy Jade Fox. He is convinced Fox is at the heart of this mystery – so is there a connection between Jen and Jade Fox? Li and Yu must search and bring the treasured Green Destiny back to its rightful owner, all the while denying the love that has burned in each of them for years ….
Yet again, Ang Lee has produced an exquisitely crafted film. Qing Dynasty China is reproduced magnificently here and the components of martial arts action, mysticism, culture and the scenic grandeur of ancient China are presented to create a well-balanced and beautiful experience for the eyes. The soundtrack, too, is magnificent and it supports the unfolding grand story very well. I understand that director Lee worked with a master fight choreographer (Yuen Wo Ping) to create the entertaining, smooth and well made fight sequences; nobody could deny their flow and athleticism, coupled with appropriate use of special effects to create each of the elegant interactions. Just go with this – it’s sheer fantasy and healthy food for the mind, based on the novel by Wang DuLu.
Made in 2000. Directed by Ang Lee.