I watched this one when it was first released and swiftly bought the DVD. Combining households with J 3+ years ago means we now own two copies. I think we're both ok with that.
I've seen a few kung-fu movies (as well as the delightful Kung-fu Hustle) and hang around an aikido dojo regularly but I wouldn't say I know what I'm talking about at all in terms of the actual martial credibility of the film. I do know that there is a certain martial group that believes in this ability to "fly" and I know the fighting doesn't look fake. It looks like they're really going to whack each other's heads off with swords. Plus, what may matter more, the emotion behind the fighting looks real. Martial ability was not sacrificed to use "actors" and acting was not sacrificed by using martial artists.
Beyond the film looking real it also looks amazingly unreal. The colors and landscapes of the film are gorgeous! As are the costumes.
Besides all of that, I'm not sure what to say about the film. It's lovely, it's heartbreaking, it's funny, it's sweet, it's romantic, it's tense, it's harsh, it's sexy, it's AMAZINGLY positive for women . . . It's just a damned good movie. Ang Lee is basically a genius. And, really, any time you want to give Chow Yun Fat or Michelle Yeow a sword, I'm there.
So, what says the book? Basically the same things I said above. Glad we're finally on the same page.