Ang Lee

Watch Selected Independent and Cult Films

Watch hundreds of rare independent and arthouse films, cult films and hand-picked documentaries from around the world with a single subscription, on any device. No limits, no ads.

Table of Contents

Ang Lee is a household name in the world of cinema. With a career spanning over three decades, he has left an indelible mark on the film industry with his unique storytelling style and impeccable direction skills. He is known for his ability to seamlessly blend different genres and explore diverse themes, making him one of the most versatile filmmakers in the business.

From small budget independent films to big-budget blockbusters, Ang Lee has proven time and again that he is a master at his craft. In this article, we will take a deep dive into his remarkable career, exploring his early beginnings, major accomplishments, and what makes him stand out as a filmmaker. So let’s buckle up and embark on a journey through the world of Ang Lee.

Early Beginnings and Breakthrough Success (1982-1995)


Childhood and Education

Ang Lee was born on October 23, 1954, in Pingtung, Taiwan. His father was a high school principal, while his mother was a homemaker. Growing up, Lee developed an interest in cinema, thanks to his father’s love for movies. He would often accompany his father to the local theater, where they would watch Hollywood films.

In 1973, Lee moved to the United States to pursue higher education. He attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he majored in theater. During his time in college, he discovered his passion for filmmaking and decided to pursue it as a career.

Early Career and First Feature Film

After graduating from college, Lee wrote and directed his first feature film, “Pushing Hands” in 1991. The movie was a success, winning him several awards at international film festivals, including Best Feature Film at the Asian-American International Film Festival.

This was followed by another critically acclaimed film, “The Wedding Banquet” in 1993. The movie was a commercial success and received an Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Language Film. With two successful films under his belt, Lee was quickly gaining recognition as a promising filmmaker.

International Recognition with “Sense and Sensibility”

In 1995, Lee directed the period drama “Sense and Sensibility,” based on Jane Austen’s novel of the same name. The film was a critical and commercial success, grossing over $135 million at the box office and receiving seven Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director for Ang Lee.

With “Sense and Sensibility,” Lee became the first Asian director to be nominated for an Academy Award. This was a significant milestone for him and opened doors for more diverse stories to be told on the big screen.


Exploring New Genres and Themes (1997-2006)

The Legendary Filmmaker Ang Lee A Journey through his Incredible Career

Taking on Westerns with “Ride with the Devil”

In 1997, Lee directed “Ride with the Devil,” a western film set during the American Civil War. It was his first venture into a completely different genre, and he received praise for his attention to detail and authenticity in depicting the historical events. Despite being a critical success, the film did not perform well at the box office.

Tackling Controversial Topics with “The Ice Storm”

In 1997, Lee took on a new challenge by directing “The Ice Storm,” a drama that explores the complexities of suburban life in the 1970s. The film tackled controversial topics such as infidelity and teenage sexuality, making it a bold move for Lee. However, his careful direction and powerful storytelling resulted in the film receiving critical acclaim and multiple award nominations.

Big-Budget Blockbusters with “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”

In 2000, Lee directed “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” an action-packed martial arts film set in ancient China. The movie was a massive success, grossing over $213 million at the box office and becoming the highest-grossing foreign-language film in the United States. It also received ten Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director for Ang Lee.

“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” showcased Lee’s versatility as a filmmaker and solidified his position as one of the most sought-after directors in Hollywood.

Pushing Boundaries and Winning Awards (2009-2013)


Critically Acclaimed “Brokeback Mountain”

In 2005, Lee directed the romantic drama “Brokeback Mountain,” based on the short story of the same name by Annie Proulx. The film tells the story of two cowboys who fall in love at a young age but struggle with their emotions due to societal expectations. “Brokeback Mountain” received widespread critical acclaim and won three Academy Awards, including Best Director for Ang Lee.

Experimenting with 3D Technology in “Life of Pi”

In 2012, Lee took on another challenge by directing “Life of Pi,” an adaptation of Yann Martel’s novel of the same name. What made this film unique was Lee’s use of 3D technology, which he used to enhance the storytelling experience. The film received critical acclaim, earning eleven Academy Award nominations and winning four, including Best Director for Ang Lee.

Success with “Hulk” and “Taking Woodstock”

Apart from his critically acclaimed films, Lee also directed two big-budget blockbusters during this time – “Hulk” in 2003 and “Taking Woodstock” in 2009. While these films did not receive the same level of critical acclaim as his other works, they were commercially successful and proved that Lee could handle different genres with ease.

Continued Success and New Frontiers (2016-Present)

Exploring Technology and Virtual Reality

In 2016, Lee directed “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk,” a war drama based on the novel of the same name by Ben Fountain. What made this film unique was Lee’s use of new technology, including high frame rate and 3D projection, to create an immersive viewing experience. While the film did not perform well at the box office, it received critical acclaim for its technical achievements.

Returning to Chinese Cinema with “Gemini Man”

In 2019, Lee went back to his roots by directing “Gemini Man,” a sci-fi action film starring Will Smith. The movie utilized cutting-edge visual effects to create a younger version of Smith, making it a highly anticipated project. While the film received mixed reviews, it was praised for its technical achievements and innovative use of technology.

Stepping into the World of Television with “Tigertail”

In 2020, Lee made his television debut by executive producing and directing the miniseries “Tigertail.” The show tells the story of a Taiwanese immigrant and his struggles in adapting to life in America. It received positive reviews for its poignant storytelling and powerful performances.

Ang Lee’s Unique Style and Impact on the Film Industry

Throughout his career, Ang Lee has shown his versatility as a filmmaker, effortlessly transitioning from one genre to another. He has also taken on new challenges and pushed boundaries, experimenting with different technologies and techniques to enhance the cinematic experience.

What sets Ang Lee apart from other directors is his ability to tell stories that resonate with people from different cultures and backgrounds. He has brought diverse stories and characters to the big screen, breaking stereotypes and creating more opportunities for representation in the film industry.


Awards and Recognition

Ang Lee’s remarkable career has earned him numerous accolades and recognition from the film industry. He has won two Academy Awards for Best Director, three Golden Globe Awards, and four BAFTA Awards. In 2013, he was awarded the prestigious Order of the Brilliant Star by the Taiwanese government for his contributions to cinema.


1991Pushing Hands
1993The Wedding Banquet
1995Sense and Sensibility
1997Ride with the Devil
1997The Ice Storm
2000Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
2003Taking Woodstock
2005Brokeback Mountain
2007Lust, Caution
2009Taking Woodstock
2012Life of Pi
2016Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk
2019Gemini Man


Hundreds of Movies and Documentaries Selected Without Limits

New movies every week. Watch on any device, without any ads. Cancel at any time.