Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon


Would anyone be interested in giving me their opinion of the last scene in this wonderful movie? My family is having a difference of opinion about the future of the young couple or if they have a future.

I think as with most endings like this, its whatever you want to believe happened. If you are a sceptic, and you sat through the scenes of wieghtlessness going "whatever", then you are likely to think she feel to her death.

But this film makes no secret of its magic, you cannot deny the mystery behind its story; Lo and Jen ending back in the desert if you wanted them to.
All I preach is....extinction.


Thanks for responding so quickly. Of course, I want to believe that Jen was showing Lo that they could "fly" back to their desert.

In Soviet America, you sue MPAA!
I never really thought about it. I always, jokingly, hoped she fell to her death, but in my subconcious I guess I imagined her floating off back to the desert...
[Edited by OG- on 03-04-2001]
Horror's Not Dead
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Well, the film is a mix - magic realism. So I thought it was highly likely she fell to her death and the pair *would* reunite - a sort of spiritual utopia, their desert hideway. She'd be with him when he went back to the desert, just not the way he preferred. In the laws of the film though, and in the laws of martial arts films, she would have to die - she has committed the ultimate trespass (she contributed to Li Mu Bai's death, the death of a grand master) and would have to pay by her death. If she didn't kill herself, someone else would have. The film dealt with the romantic and the humor, but there is still that realism - the other fighters would not have been pleased with her part in Li Mu Bai's death.

I kind of leaned toward her death not only for that, but because of the extreme sense of sacrifice in the last scenes - it's as if both she and Lo know what's she's really doing, and he knows that he cannot stop her - it is the way of the world, and she will do it regardless of her love for him.

Actually, though it's easy to write it off that way, I don't think the characters were flying. The film didn't pay much attention to this, but there are a couple of night jumping scenes in which you see Jen and Shu Lien forcibly land and take off again - it appears easy but they literally crush the tiles beneath their feet with the force of their jumping. In which case, as in most martial arts rules, they are bending the rules, not really breaking them entirely.

So ... if we bend the rules and don't break them ... the romantic in me imagined that Jen, who's apparently nearly invincible, landed nastily at the bottom of the waterfall but survived; after which, Lo hurries down to fetch and recuperate her, and they live happily ever after in the desert. Highly unlikely, but you never know...

dust bunnies are the secret rulers of the world.

In Soviet America, you sue MPAA!
The way the camera did it, made it look like she flew off. She floated more than she did fall. I kinda picture her going off to a place like in the movie Sphere and discovering the meaning of life or something. I know thats not the case, but oh well. I think she ended up in the desert somehow.

bigvalbowski's Avatar
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Here's my theory:

I can't agree that she dies. What a horrible conclusion that would have made seeing as she was our hero, albeit, a somewhat spunky, and naughty one. Though thmilin makes a good point about the laws in martial arts films would mean she would have to die.

Earlier, in the movie, we found out that a dream could come true if you floated down the river. So, it is obvious that Jen is wishing for something when she leaps. Perhaps, her desire to reenter the desert is her wish but I don't think so.

Jen and Lo's relationship was basically a passionate one. Their beautifully shot love adventure showed their obvious affection for one another. However, the relationship between the older couple was, a much stronger love. They never consummated their passion. They restrained themselves due to loyalty towards their friend. Still, when Li Mui Bai dies, it is clear that their love was true. Is Jen & Lo's love equal in power to Shen Mui and Li Mui Bai? No, but Jen wishes it was, so she jumps.

I may be reading too much into this but the ending should be subjective and this is what I'd like to think Jen was thinking when she jumped.
I couldn't believe that she knew my name. Some of my best friends didn't know my name.

Female assassin extraordinaire.
subjective indeed, that's what's so great about movies; you can get a whole different take on them.

I don't actually see Jen as a terribly sympathetic character. She is to some degree; we had our hopes for her, but in the rules of the world she lives in, she has turned bad, and she knows this by the end. Not all bad, but she's made mistakes of her own choosing and betrayed certain golden rules. She does not deserve to live happily; she cannot live with herself for the moral and ethical crimes she's committed and cannot go happily off into the desert with Lo, though she wishes she could. In truth though, is that really what she wanted? Didn't she want to be a great martial artist? Which she could not be alone in the desert with Lo. With him, she'd be his clan-leading concubine, an entirely different thing. But anyway ...

I like your theory on what her wish might have been ... but to me, considering her state she seemed more aware of her failure to be what she dreamed of being (a great fighter, which in the rules of the martial arts, would mean proper training, proper respect from her peers, and true honor) than concerned with how her love stands up to Shu Lien and Li Mu Bai's. If anything, if she's looking at their relationship versus theirs she's likely applying it to how unhonorable and impure their relationship is, which reflects on herself and her own behavior.

At the end Jen has learned her lesson but has enacted a terrible price - the death of Li Mu Bai, a great man, who would have been her teacher if she had not been selfish and vain. She has been a terrible person, which means she will NEVER be a great fighter in the way that Li Mu Bai was; she will never surpass him because she is not pure in heart and spirit as he was. She realizes this, her ultimate failure at her ultimate dream - she has betrayed everything that was the core to what she wanted to become.

As for the story that Lo tells her, I thought it was pretty likely a legend - of which there are many in ancient cultures, and obviously many in Chinese history. If his story were true then it would be figuratively true - yes you will get your wish ... but not literally. You will be reunited in the desert - but only in your dreams.

I stick to the world of the martial arts and the tragic side of the story because I grew up watching martial arts films and I grew up in Asia - this is the way it works, and this is a an eastern film made in the east that is being shown in the west. This is why I'm shying away from the romanticism of Jen living - I don't want to read it in a Western light, but within the realm it originated in.

Thank you, Thmilin, for the very clear explanation of the last scene. I feel very enlightened, and the next time I view an Eastern movie, I will have a better understanding of what is going on and why.

watched the movie again last night.

here's an essay. I don't agree with everything in it, but it contains good explanation.

stolen from wikipedia
The name "Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon" is a literal translation of the Chinese proverb "卧虎藏龍" which refers to the mysteries (or hidden talents, undiscovered talents) that lie beneath the surface of an otherwise normal-looking individual. Whereas the first part of the film takes place in society restrained by law and order, the second part, including the flashback scene, occurs in the world of individuals and thus the characters seen in the first part of the film are revealed in their true form.[3]
Jen does die. A good movie stays consistent within it's own universe, it's a chinese martial arts movie have characters who are superhuman. that is genre defined. In the movie, none of the characters can fly, they can jump very high, glide, and run off walls. But there was limit. In the scene where Jen chases green destiny down the waterfall, Li has a worried look on his face. It was a reckless move that jen got knocked unconscious from. Ang Li makes it clear here that there are limits. When Lo talks to Jen about the son jumping from the cliff, they left out no possibility of the son surviving. Instead, the character left forever, happy knowing his wish had been granted (for his parents' health). So, when Jen jumps from the cliff, we know what will happen.

Well, the film is a mix - magic realism
exactly. In this film, Ang Lee like Tarantino take genres that are considered "B" genre, and elevate them. Ang Lee's strength in movies is relationships and characters. The martial arts scenes are not realistic (they're not supposed to be), but the relationships are.

The movie feels to me like a greek tragedy. Every character in the film, so close to finding happiness as if they had been a little less foolish, or society's rules a little less constraining. Li an Fu not facing their feelings for each other, Societies rules of not allowing woman in to the wudan monastary which ultimately led to the corruption of a young woman (Jade Fox = and older Jen). Society taking the freedom away of a young extremely talented woman to be married for the convenience and stability her family and society. Jen and even moreso Lo, feeling too much filial duty and sending her back to her family. Jen, not being able to trust Li, because of the way Li's master mistreated Jade Fox.