CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON (SUPERBIT)
Reviewed November 12th, 2001 by Dan Jones
“I've already wasted my whole life. I want to tell you with my last breath that I have always loved you. I would rather be a ghost, drifting by your side as a condemned soul, than enter heaven without you. Because of your love, I will never be a lonely spirit.”
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is one of those movies that is just breathtaking to take in. Directed by Ang Lee, Crouching Tiger brings in action kung-fu star Chow Yun-Fat, and gives us a kung-fu movie so beautiful you might forget you are watching a love story. It is awkward to go in and tell you what the plot is; as it is one of those movies that has to be seen to really grasp. Nevertheless, at the very basic of levels, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, is a fantasy movie. Do not be surprised when you see the characters effortlessly flying through the air, kung-fu fighting on tree limbs, etc. There is no explanation to this activity more so then that there does not need to be one; no one in the movie thinks it is out of the ordinary; it is just their world.
Crouching Tiger truly shows the endless possibilities of movie making. It shows how immersive, beautiful, extraordinary worlds can be put on film and really come off looking spectacular. Ang Lee has definitely made a masterpiece here, and it was nice to see the recognition it got, winning Oscars for Best Cinematography, Best Foreign Language Film, Best Art/Set Direction, and Best Music, original score.
Foreign language film! Why yes, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is presented originally in Mandarin Chinese language with English subtitles, but let me be the first to tell you; this does not matter at all. You probably will not notice it after the first minute mark; the movie is just that good.
So how does Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, transfer to DVD and Superbit DVD at that? It does very, very well.
So what is Superbit? Well, the goal behind the Columbia/Tristar Superbit line is to basically take the current DVD technology to the greatest extent in terms of digital picture and sound, by increasing the bandwidth allowed to the video and audio; instead of dropping this bit rate to make room for ANY supplemental material or interactive menus. This Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon Superbit DVD release of course follows these same rules.
Video wise, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. This Superbit release contains an extremely good transfer, suffering from only very minor and few and far between artifacts and film damage. Overall, colors are very vibrant and strong and blacks are deep and pure. Really, this transfer does an excellent job and, after viewing the original DVD release, this Superbit release has a definite edge over the original release in terms of quality; as it should.
Audio wise, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is equipped with Mandarin Chinese 5.1 DTS (half-rate) and 5.1 Dolby Digital (full-rate) tracks. You will notice that the Superbit line does not include a re-dubbed English track; this reviewer is very thankful for that... The inclusion of a track such of this would have just used up space that these Superbit lines of DVDs use to the greatest extent. Moreover, anyone who would rather watch Crouching Tiger in English, well... should not.
Overall, the audio is extremely solid and very immersive. We get a new full bit rate Dolby Digital mix (compared to the original DVD release) that is extremely good, along with a new half bit rate DTS track. So, which track is the best? Well, I think I will actually have to give it to the Dolby Digital track this time; this track really has great movement around the room, the bass is very tight and solid, and overall it just sounds slightly better then the DTS track. Dolby Digital can beat DTS, it just happens sometimes. Overall, this Superbit release is clearly a marked improvement over the original DVD release in terms of audio. In the subtitles department we get a plethora of choices, English, Spanish, French, Chinese, Korean, Portuguese and Thai to be exact.
Extras... no (see above).
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is a wonder of filmmaking. Ang Lee has created a timeless masterpiece that any fan of film should see. The story is touching; the acting is excellent; the scenery and fight scenes are breathtaking; and the overall power of the movie is unforgettable. This Superbit release truly does an excellent job at presenting Crouching Tiger in excellent video and sound, as Superbit is supposed to do. Extremely recommended. Get it.
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