Pure and simple, Ang Lee's beautiful yet action packed movie, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon is magical. Unlike some of Lee's other movies, the period piece, Sense and Sensibilty, or the retro-drama The Ice Storm, both really great movies anyway, Crouching Tiger is not set in the real world…at least not any real world I live in.
Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon is like a Merchant Ivory film set in China.
What we have here are beautiful costumes and sets, and a beautiful romance, with incredible martial arts taking the place of stuffy ballroom dancing.
The martial arts scenes are over the top, but executed with such beauty and grace that the viewer just lets the suspension of disbelief completely take over. My first reaction to seeing the actors defy gravity was a slight chuckle, but that quickly gave way to pure awe. The fact that many of the martial arts scenes, choreographed by Woo-ping Yuen, who choreographed the awesome scenes in The Matrix, highlighted the females in the cast, made Crouching Tiger even more impressive.

Chow Yun Fat, last seen in the remake of Anna and The King, is wonderful as a legendary, noble swordsman. Michelle Yeoh, who has been in a few Jackie Chan films as well as a James Bond flick is incredible in this movie. I knew she was great in martial arts, but her acting was very good here.
Stealing this movie was Ziyi Zhang as an adventurous, headstrong young woman determined not to give in to the traditional customs set upon her by her parents.
She was brilliant in both her acting, and her physical prowess. It's simply amazing what these people can do!

Ang Lee does a wonderful job of directing this movie. After seeing the aforementioned Sense and Storm, I was surprised to see his involvement with an action filled movie.
Now comes word that he may direct a big screen version of the popular Incredible Hulk comic book character. That could be a very interesting development!
I can't recommend Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon enough.
Do yourself a favor and see this movie!