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Monday
Jan 27 2020

几乎有:杨紫琼在“Cro和章子怡uching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"

byCláudio Alves

History repeats itself, especially when it comes to the Academy Awards.Throughout its 92 years, very few Asian actors have been recognized, even when their films were otherwise embraced.This year, the victim of the insidious trend wasParasite, which won the SAG for Best Ensemble but couldn't muster enough support for a single acting nomination at the Oscars.Thinking back to the last non-English speaking Asian production to score a Best Picture nomination, we see the same phenomenon.

In 2000, Ang Lee'sCrouching Tiger, Hidden Dragonconquered a remarkable 10 nominations, including for Picture and Director but none of the nods were for acting.In the end, the blockbuster won four of its categories.Despite the acting branch's oversight, Michelle Yeoh and Zhang Ziyi received many nominations elsewhere, including the BAFTAs.The younger actress even conquered the Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Actress…

For many, Ang Lee's wuxia opus and its focus on kinetic fight scenes are a peculiarity in the context of the director's filmography.However, part of the genius ofCrouching Tiger, Hidden Dragoncomes from the way it mixes the propulsive action of martial arts cinema with a melodrama woven out of Lee's preferred theme of emotional repression.The film's narrative hinges on the opposite trajectories of two women whose desires are conscripted by the society they live in, its gender rules, and codes of honor.

Michelle Yeoh plays Yu Shu Lien, the head of a private security service in 18th-century China.Many years ago, she was engaged to Meng Sizhao, the closest friend of master swordfighter Li Mu Bai (Chow Yun Fat).Since her fiancé's death, Shu Lien and Mu Bai have grown close, bound by shared grief and mutual respect.Still, no matter how the flower of love may blossom, they smother it out of loyalty to the dead man.Theirs are lives ruled by strict codes, their desires muffled by duty.It's a painful, unfulfilled existence, but they both have come to terms with it.

Zhang Ziyi's Jen Yu is a much different character.Born into wealth and gifted with a talent for violence, the young woman bristles against the limitations of her gender and social standing.Since childhood, her desire for freedom made her pursue a path in the martial arts, allying herself with a traitorous servant who had stolen a tome from a Wudang master.Like Shu Lien, Jen also loves a man whose affection is prohibited by the rules of polite society.Unlike her, Jen doesn't intend to let the flames of her heart's desires be snuffed out.These women's interlaced and contrasting narratives are put into motion when Jen steals Li Mu Bai's prized sword, Green Destiny.

It's an act of childish petulance and Zhang Ziyi is brilliant at showing the immaturity of her character.Jen may be a graceful fighter and accomplished debutante, but neither mask fits her.When she's bedecked in rich silks, there's tension to her smiles and minimal gestures.While her restlessness disappears in a flurry of motion when she's fighting, there's clumsiness marring her movements.She also has the overconfidence of a teenager, always on the precipice of crippling insecurity.She may wield the sword like a veteran combatant, but her eyes shine with fear and the eagerness of youth.

Ziyi lets Jens inner feelings constantly bubble over, bringing an electric charge to her scenes, even during a desert interlude where stabbing stands for sexual foreplay.Yeoh's character, on the other hand, is defined by controlled stillness.Jen is fire and Shu Lien ice.When they finally collide, no subterfuges covering either woman's true intentions, it's a titanic clash.Sparks fly as the actresses perform one of the greatest fight scenes ever filmed, made all the better by their performances.注意杨紫琼日益增长的挫折和努力 be merciful while the younger actress swings between frightfulness and whiny arrogance.It's riveting.

That Zhang Ziyi deserved Oscar consideration for her performance is a given.Out of the two women, she's the one who received more awards attention, though Michelle Yeoh shouldn't be overlooked.Her disciplined delineation of Shu Lien's emotional journey is breathtaking.It takes tragedy to finally break her composure and to see her lose it is a sight to behold, horrible and mesmerizing in equal measure.She goes from panic to teary hopefulness and tired acceptance.Her final words to Jen are a punch to the stomach, delivered with the weariness of one whose heart was broken and doesn't wish that sort of pain upon anyone else.

Be it in balletic fights or paroxysms of repressed passion, Michelle Yeoh and Zhang Ziyi were Oscar-worthy and a key toCrouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon's phenomenal success worldwide.

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Reader Comments (14)

A great article on a great film (even if I've always considered Yeoh, Yun-Fat and Ziyi to all be co-leads and never bought the "Supporting" cries for the latter).

Zhang Ziyi really did have a golden stretch with Crouching Tiger, Hero, House Of Flying Daggers and 2046 didn't she?I'll ignore Memoirs Of A Geisha because I don't care for it.

It's also nice to remind ourselves that BAFTA used to be idiosyncratic with multiple passion picks in each acting category (Zhang Ziyi has three nominations from them!) These days we're lucky to get even one passion pick out of the 20 nominees...BRING BACK THE BAFTA NOMINATION PANELS!!!!

January 27, 2020 | Unregistered Commenterkermit_the_frog

I should watch this again.I've never been in love with it, tho have always liked it.Clearly time for a rewatch.

As far as Parasite...less to do with being Asian than the fact that none of them are super famous (Tony Leung would have been a nominee, I think).Also, the nomiees are Pacino, Pesci, Pitt the lead, Hanks the probable lead, and Hopkins the lead.Not a normal category.

January 27, 2020 | Unregistered CommenterMe

Man that fight between Shu-Lien and Jen was something.I did a shot-by-shot analysis for a film class once and I found it hard to capture everything that is great about the scene: the frantic editing, the physicality, and most of all the choreography.I thought it was remarkable the way it showed Shu Lien always with the upper hand that was nullified by the superiority of the Green Desitny.It's a shame that Yeoh had never quite gotten the same awards love as her Heroic Trio co-stars Maggie Cheung or Anita Mui (RIP).She is certainly just as talented.

January 27, 2020 | Unregistered Commenterajnrules

My Nominees

Roberts
Pfeiffer
Allen
Linney
Burstyn

January 27, 2020 | Unregistered Commentermarkgordonuk

My Supporting nominees

McDormand
Zeta Jones
Connelly
Harden
May

January 27, 2020 | Unregistered Commentermarkgordonuk

Both of these BADASS women were SO GOOD in this!I would've totes given Ziyi the Oscar (and did in my own personal awards) given the nominees that year.

January 27, 2020 | Unregistered CommenterChris

Yeoh should have been nominated.Lovely performance.

January 27, 2020 | Unregistered Commentereurocheese

This remains one of my top three films of all time, and has been since its release.Completely agree with this article, and add that Lee won the Globe, BAFTA and DGA, but missed the Oscar, which frankly was ridiculous.He has since won two director oscars, so it’s been rectified, but IMHO, this remains his best directed film.

January 27, 2020 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

I love this movie.And the ending is perfection.

January 27, 2020 | Unregistered CommenterPedro

My favorite scene is between Michelle Yeoh and Fun-Fat Chow where they express their love to each other in a very delicate and discreet Asian way.Aaaahhhhh

January 27, 2020 | Unregistered CommenterManuel

Fyi, Yeoh, Zhang r nom as best actress at Golden Horse, Chow was snubbed thr, but all three leads r nom at HK Film Awards.

Zhang wld've won had she not run agst Maggie Cheung fr In The Mood For Love.Maggie created history, winning her 4th best actress award fr Golden Horse, n her 5th fr HK film award.A record still unbeaten.

Trivia: Shu Qi was actually Lee Ang's 1st choice for Jen Yu, while Jet Lee;Li Mubai.

January 27, 2020 | Unregistered CommenterClaran

Yeoh and Zhang both gave phenomenal performances, but I think that 2000 was a tipping point before foreign language performances were readily accepted into Oscar acting nominees, particularly for less well-known performers.The female acting categories were already stacked with well-known names, and even newcomer Kate Hudson was a known quantity because of her lineage., while the male acting categories had breakthroughs with Bardem getting nominated (like with Banderas this year, likely getting that last slot because of a lot of critical attention) and Del Toro winning.In the last 15 years, every year except one has had a foreign language performance nominated.现在,仍然non-Europ的额外障碍ean foreign language performances being recognized, but it remains my hope and my expectation that the increasing amount "almost there" Asian language performances will finally result in a nomination for one of them soon.

January 28, 2020 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel

"In the last 15 years, every year except one has had a foreign language performance nominated."

Not true?2017, 2015, 2013, 2009, 2008 had none.

January 28, 2020 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

2017 = Timothée Chalamet spoke French and Italian in Call Me by Your Name.

2013 = Barkhad Abdi spoke Somali in Captain Phillips.

2009 = Christoph Waltz spoke German, French, and Italian in Inglourious Basterds.

2008 = Penélope Cruz spoke Spanish in Vicky Cristina Barcelona.

These performances weren't entirely in a foreign language, but these performers did speak foreign languages in their performances, demonstrating what I believe is a movement towards a more cosmopolitan range of performances recognized by the Academy.

January 28, 2020 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel

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