The filming required an immense effort from all involved. Chow and Yeoh had to learn to speak Mandarin, which Lee insisted on using instead of Cantonese to achieve a more classic, lyrical feel. The astonishing battles between Jen (Zhang) and Yu Shu Lien (Yeoh) on the rooftops and Jen and Li Mu Bai (Chow) atop the branches of bamboo trees required weeks of excruciating wire and harness work (which in turn required meticulous "digital wire removal"). But the result is a seamless blend of action, romance, and social commentary in a populist film that, like its young star Zhang, soars with balletic grace and dignity. --Eugene Wei
Those who do not have a special connection to China will still love this movie (if they aren't Joe sixpack who won't read subtitles.) The on-screen letterbox book format made the subs very readable and were very close to the words spoken by the actors.
This is an extraordinary movie, a reminder of the secrets of Asia and the beauty of martial arts when danced, not punched, with one's opponent -- the dance that is the art of Tao combined with the warrior duty of the Emporor's dynasty. Women viewers will be stunned by the beauty and strength of these fluid participants in their destiny. I continue to learn more of the language, the landscape I see in my dreams, the words I hear when reading the sacred scripts.
The sheer beauty of the choreography is stunning in the mist that is China. Yo Yo Ma outdoes himself in the soundtrack and I will add it to my extensive collection of his work. Even those who don't appreciate the soul of a great Cellist must have this opportunity to dip their fingers in the water of orchestral beauty. I suggest "The Last Emporer" when adding this to yourwish list and reserving a full evening to find your way to the Oriental mysteries--older than any other great civilization--fresh and inspiring to us.