Stealing Scenes | Letters | Chicago Reader

Stealing Scenes 

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Mr. Rosenbaum,

Recently I have become frustrated with a phenomenon that you might file under American Isolationism (please correct me if I've put words in your mouth) when reading about Ang Lee's new film (which I haven't seen since it won't be out till February 9 in the East Tennessee-Knoxville area), Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

More than one critic has touched on the apparent Matrix influence on the film, and one critic, I believe at the Village Voice, mentioned that CT, HD served to irrefutably exemplify the international influence of The Matrix since its fight scenes are Matrix-esque. What all these people are forgetting is that (a) the fight scenes have been choreographed by the same man who did them in The Matrix, and it wouldn't be right to say that a man influenced himself, exactly, and (b) this very same man was himself influenced by countless Hong Kong pictures--the same pictures that Ang Lee set out to emulate and homage--all of which came long before The Matrix.

But this is coming from someone who thought The Matrix was enjoyable but thought the fight scenes were perhaps the film's weaker points--a bit slow and literally heavy-handed. This, I imagine, has little to do with the choreographer, however, but instead the all-but-untrained American actors who performed. The Matrix only seemed new because of that multicamera, 3-D trick that had already been worn out in Gap commercials, which did in ways aid the lazy martial arts, I guess.

I guess my main problem is I am tired of films like The Matrix being labeled as something terribly new and original but really it's just that they are popular, somehow. I enjoyed it, but The Matrix did very little that was truly original. What's going on?

Thanks for any comments you may give,

Sean Campbell

Kingston, Tennessee

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