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Volume 3, Issue 3                                    University of Houston

In Hollywood, the year of the woman?

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

Starring: Chow Yun-Fat, Michelle Yeoh, Ziyi Zhang
Rated: PG-13

4 1/2 out of 5 stars


Miss Congeniality

Starring: Sandra Bullock, Benjamin Bratt
Rated: PG-13

2 1/2 out of 5 stars

By Rattaya Nimibutr
Breaking News Staff

Although it seems male protagonists are making a comeback in Hollywood (Tom Hanks in Castaway, Mel Gibson in What Women Want and Nicholas Cage in The Family Man), it's really the women who are shining. Look at how far Charlie's Angels has gone or Björk's triumph in Dancer in the Dark and you'll see that the ladies aren't stopping.

And in the new year, the girl power comes from two very different sources: Sandra Bullock in Miss Congeniality and director Ang Lee's masterpiece Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

Yes, Crouching Tiger reeks of women in command. The two leads, Michelle Yeoh and Ziyi Zhang, perform most of the Chinese martial arts in the film. But the movie is more than that -- it's a truly great action-romance that does a lot to advance the appreciation of Chinese martial arts among American audiences.

The film also continues the kung fu movie legacy of flying-through-the-air fighting scenes and quick-paced action. It's the same kind of thing that wowed moviegoers in The Matrix -- but this is the original.

Aside from the women, Chow Yun-Fat (Anna and the King) is magnificent. The story radiates from him.

The season's other woman-power film is Miss Congeniality which belies its immature appearance. Bullock has come a long way through cute films, and as much as we'd like to forget some of them, she has scored some roles worth mentioning -- most notably those in Speed and Hope Floats.

In Miss Congeniality, the Austin-based actress stars as FBI agent Gracie Hart, who goes undercover in a beauty pageant. It's a good, heartfelt story. Although the storyline would only be possible on the silver screen, Bullock is able to pull it off with charm and humor.

Benjamin Bratt (formerly of TV's Law & Order) co-stars, but has limited chemistry with Bullock. Even that doesn't bring down the overall quality of the film, however.

These two films are from entirely different genres, but both are fun to watch. Crouching Tiger fulfills all expectations, and Miss Congeniality makes girls' night out all the more interesting.

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