Making Chop-Socky Important

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: The Art Film Hidden Inside the Chop-Socky Flick by Mattew Levie : Everyone was willing to heap praise on Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon when it came out, but few actually examined the importance of the film. Most people rightly praised the stunning visuals or the expertly choreographed fight sequences, but there was no discussion of what made CTHD an important film. This despite being directed by Ang Lee, a man known for his slowly paced character studies. They've been making martial arts films in Hong Kong for quite some time, and as far as that goes, CTHD is pretty much average. But there is something that sets it apart from its mindless action counterparts. Levie contends that CTHD is a commentary on the plight of the modern woman.
Imagine Jade Fox as the strong professional woman who is perceived as too "aggressive" and even "bitchy," while her equally aggressive male colleagues are spared this criticism; Shu Lien as the woman who works twice as hard as her male colleagues to reach the same stature, sacrificing her personal happiness for professional success; and Jen as a beautiful, capable teenager trying to set her priorities: career or family?
Its an interesting viewpoint, and it fits with the movie. The women in CTHD are desperately trying to succeed in a world that doesn't overtly oppress them, but is still full of sexual prejudices and challenges. Its watching how the women in CTHD reconcile with this world that gives it an advantage over its competition.

The article is from Bright Lights Film Journal, which has always been a good read for movie fans with more diverse interests. They just released a new issue, with good articles on the distribution of Black Films, The Tarantino Legacy, and the failure of Wag the Dog.