Back from the brink of breederhood, I lit out for the mountains with a pack of Marlboros, my four cats, my AK-47, and the new Melissa Etheridge album. After I…well, after the batteries in my vibrator died their own little death, I panted down a fag and let my eyes drink the beauty of Earth-Mother’ s forest. I felt a warm sense of camaraderie with the great womyn womb-spirits, and my mind traveled…back to the beginning of the year, back to forests and fighting and yoni. Back to “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.”
CTHD was the greatest lesbian film since…well, I can’t even remember the last one, because none of these motherfucking Harvard frat boys that run the studios could recognize an actual lesbian if she strapped one on and… anyway, it was a great lesbian film. At times, it seemed to be bogging down in a patriarchal mindset, but (thank Isis!) was redeemed at its end by one of the most in-your-face dyke-power scenes to ever hit the screen.
Fuck all that. Let’s start from the nadir and work our way back up. When the film opens, we are treated to the same kind of straight pedestrian male/female unresolved sexual tension that plagues what passes for entertainment in our culture. Again I say, fuck all that, men do not need women, and women most certainly don’t need dick.
I have never understood the concept of unrequited love. In order for this to occur, we have to assume that the man is not making a pass-a-day at the woman. We are asked to suspend our disbelief enough to buy the idea that he is “too much in love” to get her drunk, bend her over a bed, and pollute her sacred womb with his demonic filth. This moves beyond the realm of fiction into the genre of macho dick-waving fantasy. In a movie like CTHD, I might be able to accept that, but the concept of dancing on a leaf two hundred feet in the air is still less of a stretch. And by the way, I have been stretched.
Chow Yun-Fat plays the quote hero and gives Michelle Yeoh his sword, in a gesture symbolizing his interest in making a domesticated dick-whipped parody of her. He asks her to undertake a journey on his behalf, with the phallic object du jour in hand. She agrees; there isn’t really an explanation for why she wants to taint her hands with his Green Destiny, but we’ll forgive this since without it, there wouldn’t be a plot.
Michelle arrives in the city bearing the sword of syphilis, and it is here that the real film begins. We meet Zhang Ziyi — in the most luscious breakout role since Jodie Foster burst out of her training bra in Taxi Driver– who plays the ingenue to Yeoh’s vintage wisdom. The unresolved sexual tension between the two of them is thick like hymen wine. Neither, of course, is sure if the other returns the feelings, and they waltz around each other, sparring and retreating, but never quite letting their eyes wander from the others’ magic carpets.
We soon learn that Zhang, far from being just another adolescent closeting herself in a thick haze of cutesy hairstyles and makeup so thick you’d need to sandblast it off, has an alter-ego as an ass-kicking Ninja bitch. She steals the sword at the bidding of her mentor, Jade Fox, a bitter old biker dyke if I’ve ever seen one. Jade is the archetypal adversary of Chow Yun’s character, and only by possessing his sword of manhood can she fully castrate him into submission. He is the avatar for every straight man, and she must, at all costs, protect the naive Zhang from his advances. She must destroy him, like all men.
What Jade Fox doesn’t know will be the cock that fucks her. Zhang, it seems, has already taken an interest in men after being captured by a desert thug. Falling prey to the hostage-that-falls-in-love-with-her-captor delusion, she spends an indefinite amount of time trapped in a cave with a teenage thief who repeatedly rapes her. This is all told in flashback; meanwhile, back in the city, a lot of people die for reasons I’ve since forgotten. Chow-Yun shows up, and Zhang is destined to be sold into a life of servitude as a wife.
Bravely, she fights off this fate instead of resigning herself to it, and escapes. We track her movements. There are several highlight sequences at this point, the foremost one being when Zhang slaughters a hoard of drunk rednecks, no doubt saving multitudes of repressed women from the fate of buckwheat kneepads, and promptly leaves the honky tonk joint in splinters.
There’s a lot more fighting, including a great sequence between Zhang and Michelle, until we finally reach the climax of the movie. Jade Fox must face Chow-Yun, and kill him before he completely brainwashes both of the lipstick lesbians in his company. They fight, she poisons him, she courageously sacrifices her own life at the altar of feminism, and Jen and Yu are left to clean up the mess. It’s classic allegory for the arc of lesbianism in the modern era, and while most of the of the younger femme crowd looks on the butchy grrls of yesteryear with disgust, we need to all take note and realize the sacrifices they made for us. Without them, there would be no K.D. Lang. No granola. No spiky hair, or Tank Girl.
Zhang and Michelle, sadly, part ways. Zhang needs to go off to fight and to meditate, to find herself, to prepare herself for the ritual of coming out of the closet. She has her own journey, and everyone must come to terms with leaving mainstream society in their own time and way. Michelle understands. She loves her, and somewhere, somehow… maybe at the Lilith Fair… they will meet again.
The epilogue to the movie is watching Zhang come into her own as a member of the Lesbian Militia™.
She launches herself into the void, floating, falling, plummeting down the cliffs and valleys of desire. She dies and is reborn into a life where men have little meaning. Phoenix rising into the ether. Welcome to the labial folds, little muffmuncher.
Every lesbian, no matter what her background, will find herself in this movie. It is, quite possibly, the only movie in the history of celluloid to delve this deeply into the vagina of hope. Ang Lee, although not a lesbian, has really outdone himself with this one. A cornucopia of praise goes to the triad that really made this movie what it was… Zhang as the maiden, Yeoh as the mother, and Cheng as the crone. They really made flesh the concept of the Wiccan Trinity, and for that, I salute them.
The erection-prone masses should see this film as well. Notice it’s the woman who learns to dive. Some of you will surely learn from that, and maybe actually go down on some of our deluded straight sisters. It’s a pale comparison to being eaten out by someone who actually knows what the fuck they’re doing, but they can recognize there is something beyond pump-pump, thrust-thrust, get me a beer, bitch! All in all, it’s a good solution until we can find a way to eradicate the man-plague from Mother Earth.