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Asian Film-grimage: The Locales Of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

March 30th, 2009 by

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon Movie PosterCrouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is the Academy Award-winning masterpiece from Taiwanese director Ang Lee which brought worldwide attention not only to the superhuman sword-slashing wuxia film genre that is popular in China, but also to the majestic landscapes found in that country, as well. From ghost cities in the desert to a bamboo forest, the film celebrates China’s natural wonders, places you can actually visit on your journey there.

A few scenes were devoted to the forested Wuxia warrior base at Mount Wudang. Cangyan Mountain doubled as Mount Wudang during the film’s shooting. Cangyan Mountain is 50 kilometers southwest of the provincial capital Shijiazhuang and is close to the border of Shanxi Province, and is renowned for its scenery and several temples established on its slopes. Qiaoloudian Temple is one such temple you can visit, one of the few hanging temples in China. A hanging temple is a structure that seems suspended on the sheer rock face of a mountainside, supported only by wooden posts. Another celebrated temple is Fortune Celebration Temple, which is also called Princess Temple as Princess Nan Yang once practiced Buddhism here. The central landmark of this complex is the Bridge-Tower Hall, supported by a stone arch bridge built over a narrow gorge. Other temples on the mountain are Sleeping Buddha Statue Temple, and Longyang Temple. To get to Cangyan Mountain, drive southward along Beijing-Shenzhen Expressway and proceed to Shijiazhuang-Taiyuan Expressway at Shintai Exit. Proceed to Pingshe Road, then drive southward, turn left at Shizhuang Village and drive along a tourist road to get to the mountain. If you’re traveling by train, get off at Shijiahuang Station, take one of the four regular sightseeing buses at Dongfang Bus Station at No. 358 Xinhua West Road.


A small part of the film show Zhang Ziyi living in a vast wasteland, spending time with her lover played by Chen Chang.. This is the ghost city of Xinjiang, the largest province in the country with 1.6 million square kilometers of land. Despite comprising 1/6th of China’s land area, it is sparsely populated and most of its attractions center around bodies of water. The ghost city, on the other hand, is unique that it revolves around 120 square kilometers of bare rock and sand. The “city” is actually comprised of  rock formations that come out of nowhere, shaped by the endless winds into strange skyscrapers that capture the imagination. The winds themselves create strange moaning sounds, inspiring the locals to think of spirits who wander around the desert. There is barely any tourist support in this region, and this makes it a blessing for adventurers who simply wish to immerse themselves in solitude amidst pure natural surroundings. The ghost city is located 100 kilometers north of Karamay, where travel agencies can arrange day or overnight tours using camels, motorbikes, or four-wheeler. You can also set up base in Uerhe, a small community nearer to the ghost city. While in Xinjiang, you can trace back the legendary Silk Road and explore the towns which it once passed.

Finally, the climactic fight scene between Chow-Yun Fat and Zhang Ziyi take place in a huge bamboo forest, where the swaying green stalks act as stepping stones for the two combatants, accentuating their light-footedness. This was shot in Anji Bamboo Forest, the largest of its kind in China. There are two places of interest in Anji: the forest itself (Dao Zhu Hai) and the nearby Bamboo Museum (Zhu Bo Yuan). The museum has performances, exhibits and products dedicated to the history of man’s utilization of the world’s tallest grass. The forest, on the other hand, is a green and peaceful destination, providing an almost idyllic lifestyle as the winds whisper past the slender stalks. Spicy bamboo shoots are for sale by the entrance, at very affordable prices. Also affordably priced are the dozens of guesthouses attached to restaurants, which are run by the friendly locals. Try the white tea while you’re here, a local specialty. To get to Anji Bamboo Forest, take a bus from Hangzhou‘s northern bus station. After a 1.5-hour ride to Anji station, take another bus headed towards the forest.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is a very Western-friendly Chinese film, and introduces a genre beloved by millions to the rest of the world. If you interest is piqued by the movie and you want to immerse yourself in the world of mystic warriors and the path of spirituality, then the movie locations are a great way to start you on your journey.

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