I started working my first movie theater job at age 17, in January of 2000. So I had been working there for about a year when this movie was released. Given the widespread acclaim from practically everyone who ever saw it, I don’t have any real excuse for having waited this long. I’m not sure how I missed it back then, and no idea why I never watched the DVD that my roommate had for years. But I’ve finally corrected that error, and I’m very glad I did. There is nothing that I can say or write that a thousand other people haven’t over the last nearly twenty years, but I will say that it was incredibly admirable the way it embraced so many things at once, and knocked them all out of the park. Whether you’re looking for breathtaking action, heartfelt romance, dramatic tension or breakthrough performances, this film has something for everyone, but never one thing at the expense of something else. Ang Lee announced himself as a force to be reckoned with here, and there is a reason it swept awards around the world for directing, sound, editing, art direction and more. It touches on some deep themes, tackles (and destroys) gender roles, and delivers an epic tale that is just as popular with audiences as it is with critics. That’s a rare feat, and one it pulls off with all the grace of its historic fight sequences.