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Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

On the surface, it wasn't much more than a love story set in ancient times. But it kicked off not only the renaissance of martial arts movies but Asian films in the mainstream in general, and finally convinced Hollywood subtitles weren't for the art-house or box office poison. Ang Lee bought such kinetic movement and distinctive scenery to the screen, an invented world where he wrote the rules, it was like a cross between a classic Disney film and the work of Bruce Lee.

The Warrior Li Mu Bai (Yun-Fat) has always loved Yu Shu Lien (Yeoh), but before he consummates his feeling for her, he must reign in a renegade student of his secretive battle craft (Zhang, who was the go-to girl for every young female Asian role therafter for years) who's taken up with a cowboy-like leader of a desert robber gang.

Was it the chop-socky action sequences, choreographed like Swan Lake, the otherworldy fantasy of the characters' special powers, the unrealised love of the leads, the authenticity of leaving the dialogue in its native language or the rich characterisations? This film gave heart and soul to kung fu, and hasn't been surpassed since.

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