For the few who will believe me, I actually have never seen Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. I was seven when it came out and so, I was pleasantly surprised to find an excuse to watch it. What I did know from it is that it was critically acclaimed and by Ang Lee, but nothing in regards to how the story would unfold.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is a fairy tale about a naive and gifted girl, who comes of age and comes to terms with her place in the world. I describe it as a fairy tale first and foremost because Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon has so many elements from fantastical fairy tale storytelling. Characters gracefully leap and fight each other in artistic ways. The characters themselves demonstrate some level of mythic strength and tragic backstory. And the film even features a witch-like figure that maliciously plots against all the characters as a whole. The film takes places during the time of the Qing dynasty and this can be seen very much in the heroes, their fighting style, the presence of bandits and royalty, and even cultural values - like parentage, filial piety, and norms of engagement / greetings.
Just as how you would teach any other fairy tale in an english class or a unit on mythology, I think that Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon could fit in a lot of different classroom contexts. With regards to maturity, the film does not feature that much gore and sexual content. And through a fairy tale platform, the film has so much to tell. Students in a historical context can pick out the costume and roles of different individuals. And students in a literary context can see the changes throughout the plot, the imagery and understand characters’ rhetorical purposes. Regardless of classroom context, the film is very enjoyable and one that would certainly appeal to adolescents today.
I give Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, an 8/10.