If you have to watch one Tubi movie this May 2024, stream this one

Two people stand in a mountain valley in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

More than almost any other streaming service, the past lives on at Tubi. Some of that is by necessity, since the bigger streamers sweep up most of the contemporary box office hits, and almost every major studio in Hollywood has its own streaming service. While there are some modern films and TV shows on Tubi, it also has a robust lineup of movies and series that pretend like cinematic and television history began in the ’80s. These older titles need a home, and Tubi has given it to them.

However, our pick for the one Tubi movie that you have to watch in May isn’t that old, relatively speaking. Director Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon caused a cultural sensation in 2000, not unlike the way Everything Everywhere All at Once did in 2022 on its way to earning Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actress honors for Michelle Yeoh. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon also features Yeoh in a leading role during an earlier period of her career, and the film was also an Oscar-winner for Best Foreign Language Film, Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, and Best Original Score. It was also nominated for Best Picture and Best Director, but came up short there.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon‘s cultural impact may have faded in the last two decades, but this is still a movie worth revisiting … especially since it’s free to watch on Tubi. But if you haven’t seen it before, here are some reasons to watch Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon on Tubi in May 2024.

It’s two love stories in one

Chow Yun-fat and Michelle Yeoh in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
Sony Pictures Classics

The most affecting aspect of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is the understated and largely unspoken love between Yeoh’s Yu Shu Lien and Li Mu Bai (Chow Yun-fat). Both are skilled warriors and close friends, and yet also unable to speak about the desires of their respective hearts. That’s the underlying tragedy in this movie, as circumstances conspire to keep Mu Bai and Shu Lien apart, even as the audience roots for them to get together no matter what.

There is also a secondary love story between Jen Yu (Zhang Ziyi) and the bandit Lo Xiao Hou (Chang Chen). They get further along in their relationship than Mu Bai and Shu Lien, but in some ways, they’re destined to repeat the same mistakes. It’s almost Shakespearean the way that neither couple ever fully gets what they want, and only half of what they think they deserve.

It redefined martial arts movies for Western audiences

Chow Yun-fat and Zhang Ziyi in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
Sony Pictures Classics

Wuxia martial arts movies existed before Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, but this film was the first one to break out with American viewers who were unfamiliar with the genre.

The story takes place in China’s past, but it’s gloriously untethered by the rules of reality. That lends an otherworldly quality to the fights that seem to defy gravity itself. Martial arts fans come these movies to see the action, and this one did not disappoint.

It has a breakthrough performance by Zhang Ziyi

Zhang Ziyi in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
Sony Pictures Classics

Yeoh and Yun-fat were already established performers when Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was made. But this was the film that turned Zhang Ziyi into an international star. Zhang’s character, Jen, had a bit more to play than the stoically heroic personas of her co-stars. Because of her noble birth, Jen had to be many things to different people. To her family, Jen was the dutiful daughter who reluctantly accepted an arranged marriage, while to her secret tutor, Jen was a warrior who may have surpassed her mentor. And when Jen was with Lo, she allowed herself to love someone else for perhaps the first time.

Zhang had a handful of roles in American movies after this, including Rush Hour 2, Memoirs of a Geisha, and Godzilla: King of the Monsters. Although Zhang has stated that she prefers the roles that she gets in Asian cinema, she still pops up occasionally in American films, and she’s solidified her place in the history of martial arts movies.

It has a powerful and moving ending

Michelle Yeoh and Chow Yun-fat in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
Sony Pictures Classics

The film’s two love affairs are intertwined throughout the movie, but especially at the end. Shu Lien and Mu Bai see some of themselves in Jen and Lo, and they’re willing to make sacrifices so that the younger couple can be happy together. As noted above, there are Shakespearean overtones to those love stories, and that also includes a touch of tragedy. Not all of the characters get what they want in this story, and it’s heartbreaking to see that play out in one of the most emotionally affecting moments of the film.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon ultimately ends with a wish, a choice, and a sacrifice that feels like something out of a fairy tale. This story concludes, but there is a sequel, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny, on Netflix, if you want to seek it out.

Watch Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon on Tubi.