I should have seen it coming: last year, critics (including the ones who support the more avant-garde stuff) collectively drooled over Being John Malkovich, which I thought was funny for the first hour but thereafter quite irritating. Now it's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, whose critic-granted ratings read like Stephen Hawking's school report cards. Am I the only one who sees that, once you strip away the (admittedly well-choreographed, well-edited) fight scenes, you're left with virtually nothing substantial because, from a dramatic angle, the film is highly suspect? I won't go through the dull plot, but it turns out a sword's missing, someone has stolen it and a lot of people want to kick each other into the ground - if you've seen any number of Chinese films, there's your usual statements about honor, nobility and enlightenment. Lee and his screenwriters, for some inexplicable reason, actually interrupt the picture half-way through to go into the relationship between the female anti-hero and her nomad boyfriend, about how be beats her repeatedly, she hits him, then tries to run away, then he gags her and rapes her, and she falls in love that come out of bad Almodóvar (as if Almodóvar isn't aware of the inherent silliness factor)? It's a digression we don't need in a movie that's already too long and boring to begin with. Actually, I think all the ballyhooing over such a mediocre picture is a knee-jerk reaction to the clichéd action films that dominate the screen. I'll take my Zu - you can keep this.