Professor Charles French
ENG255 Literature and Film
August 4, 2010
A Sequence Analysis: “The Bamboo Forest Fighting Sequence” in Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Perhaps, the powerful storyline of the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was what encouraged one of the greatest cinematic martial arts directors Ang Lee, to make a film out of the Chinese novel. In this film, Lee’s primary function is not only to portray skillfully choreographed fighting scenes, but also to connect powerful sequences of events that touches upon the emotional complex human condition that is associated with both the Taoist and Buddhist belief systems. By not allowing action to be the sole guiding force of the narrative of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Lee has indeed made some adaptation to the Taoist and Buddhist philosophy. The Bamboo Forest Fighting scene adjoins all of these elements in a beautiful sequence. The clear Buddhist and Taoist philosophies shine through each element of the sequence to produce a working subtext that respects and frames the culture of the myth's origin.
The Bamboo Forest Fighting scene is the encounter between two of the main characters Jen Yu (Zhang Ziyi) and Li Mu Bai (Chow Yun-Fat) where they are atop bamboo trees in a duel. This is an excellent choreographed, but non-traditional fighting scene as well. The characters both seem like they are dancing with the bamboo. In Taoist philosophy returns to the principle of allowing chi to flow without struggle, and thus the Tao informs the dance-like, rhythmic, and wavy qualities of the martial arts portrayed in the sequence; Buddhism philosophy identifies the bamboo as emptiness and true mind, thus allowing Jen Yu and Li Mu Bai to calm their mind in the forest. These principles also affect the graceful martial arts style of the sequence, martial arts that occurs often, and which is surrounded by such mystery, that it becomes a character of its own. In the bamboo forest sequence,...