— Opinion —
The “Best of Cinema” series brings classic and cult films back to the screen and gives film fans the chance to experience their favorite films again or for the first time in the cinema. And after some of my favorite films (such as David Lynch’s mindfuck masterpiece “Mulholland Drive” or Luc Besson’s legendary action classic “Léon – The Professional”) celebrated their comeback this year, another film is coming up in a few days, which has a very special meaning for me: “Tiger & Dragon”.
Not only did Ang Lee’s poetic martial arts epic break numerous records in the early 2000s – no non-English language film had ever grossed as much in the US or been nominated for so many Oscars. At the same time, it found its way into countless leaderboards, including the DashFUN ranking of the best action films of all time. And for me, as an action film enthusiast with a weakness for martial arts, “Tiger & Dragon” is one of the best in its genre. That’s exactly why his cinema comeback is so special: Because even if Hollywood regularly blows big budget crackers around our ears, there will probably hardly be any better action scenes to be seen on the screen this year than in this timeless masterpiece.
“Tiger & Dragon” comes thanks “Best of Cinema” back to the cinema again on August 2, 2022!
What distinguishes “Tiger & Dragon” from many other martial arts films, whose acrobatic variety often invites you to marvel, but which are usually quite uninteresting in terms of content, is its universal story an impossible love – as well as the way he develops it even within the action scenes.
“When it comes to matters of the heart, even the greatest hero can be completely helpless”: Just with this statement at the beginning of the film, Li Mu Bai, played by Chow Yun-Fat, and his former companion Yu Shu Lien (Michelle Yeoh) don’t get easy for us only as strong and honorable warriors, but at the same time as deeply human figures. Though their legend is known far and wide, in the end, deep down, they are nonetheless like everyone else, flesh and blood people with hopes, fears, and unfulfilled dreams.
The two connect not only a life doomed to death, in which countless people died by their blade, but above all an impossible love that is put to the test again after many years when Li Mu Bai’s legendary sword “Green Fate” threatens to fall into the hands of dark forces…
“A sword alone has no power, only man brings it to life” – and thus conjures up death.
“Tiger & Dragon” can be described as a blatant alternative to the rough orgies of the 80s or the rough martial arts tears, which, especially in the recent past, have relied on uncompromising orgies of slaughter. For just as a ruler should rule over his people not with violence but with strength, so it is incumbent on warriors on the battlefield to show respect to their opponents – as well as their sword and any death sentence that is sealed by it.
The action sequences in “Tiger & Dragon” testify to opulent grace and elegance and are as beautiful as murder and manslaughter can be staged. Beginning with the nocturnal, almost silent robbery of the sword, which is only accompanied by a gentle, constantly increasing drum roll and almost seems operatic, up to the varied and playfully choreographed fights by genre master Woo-Ping Yuen, the Li Mu Bai & Co. run up the walls of houses, hover over roofs or glide through treetops.
Coupled with the picturesque shots by cameraman Peter Pau and a cast that not only has mastered the art of acting but also martial arts to perfection, this results in some of the best action scenes in film history. But the action is not only staged with a unique calmness of mind (yet incredibly impressive, complex and intense), but also never serves a pure end in itself – but always acts as a stage for the emotional world and the development of the characters. There is something like that in this film only very, very rarely. Even today.
Incidentally, as the official media partner of “Best Of Cinema”, we will continue to inform you about iconic and different classics that are finding their way back to the big screen in the coming months. After “Tiger & Dragon”, four other very different highlights await you from September to December – from dystopian science fiction to Quentin Tarantino’s gangster cult.
More information can be found on the official Best of Cinema website.