Why would anyone want to watch Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon on TV? Surely, Ang Lee’s mind-boggling fusion of Hong Kong action and Hollywood narrative sweep demands to be seen on a big screen, where it can take its place alongside such epics of the heart and eye as ”Lawrence of Arabia” and ”The Seven Samurai.” The answer’s simple: This is a film you want to own, if only to revisit favorite scenes, like that first rooftop chase or the climactic bamboo ballet, or to sigh over careworn warrior Michelle Yeoh, Zen knight Chow Yun-Fat, and teen tornado Zhang Ziyi.
If it’s the subtitles that are worrying you, know that ”Crouching Tiger” is being released in both the subtitled theatrical version and an English dub that’s far superior to most cross-language chop jobs. True, the subtitles translate the script more faithfully, but purism may be moot when you consider that Chinese audiences scoffed at the non-Mandarin-speaking Yeoh and Chow’s wooden attempts at the dialect. Besides, Tiger transcends language as easily as it does genre: You could turn the sound off entirely and still be astonished.