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Taiwanese filmmaker Ang Lee took a break from making Western period dramas to fashion this wild and woolly martial arts spectacular featuring special effects and action sequences courtesy of the choreographer of The Matrix (1999), Yuen Woo Ping. In the early 19th century, martial arts master Li Mu Bai (Chow Yun-Fat) is about to retire and enter a life of meditation, though he quietly longs to avenge the death of his master, who was killed by Jade Fox (Cheng Pei-pei). He gives his sword, a fabled 400-year-old weapon known as Green Destiny, to his friend, fellow martial arts wizard and secret love Yu Shu Lien (Michelle Yeoh), so that she may deliver it to Sir Te (Sihung Lung). Upon arrival in Peking, Yu happens upon Jen (Zhang Ziyi), a vivacious, willful politician's daughter. That night, a mysterious masked thief swipes Green Destiny, with Yu in hot pursuit -- resulting in the first of several martial arts action set pieces during the film.