* Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000). A film by Ang Lee that transcends categorization and reminds us--simply, powerfully, indelibly--what we go to the movies for. A delightful one-of-a-kind martial arts romance in which astounding fight sequences alternate with passionate yet idealistic love duets, "Crouching Tiger" is a fusion film from top to bottom. Starring Chow Yun-Fat, Michelle Yeoh and Zhang Ziyi. In Mandarin, with English subtitles. Columbia: no list price; DVD: $24.96; (CC); PG-13 for martial arts violence and some sexuality.
* Last week's Top 5 VHS rentals:1. Vertical Limit (2000). Nail-biting sequences of mountaintop peril characterize this old-fashioned tale of high-altitude derring-do. The plot and the dialogue are strictly by the numbers, though. Directed by Martin Campbell. Chris O'Donnell, Bill Paxton and Robin Tunney star. PG-13, for intense life or death situations and brief strong language.
2. What Women Want (2000). A vaguely amusing formulaic comedy with a premise--chauvinist male gets the ability to hear what women are thinking--that is more discomforting than endearing. You have to be a Mel Gibson-aholic to fully enjoy the proceedings. Helen Hunt co-stars. Directed by Nancy Meyers. PG-13 for sexual content and language.
3. Miss Congeniality (2000). Sandra Bullock plays a drab, dedicated FBI agent who undergoes a make-over by suave expert Michael Caine to go undercover as Miss New Jersey in a beauty pageant menaced by a terrorist threat. With Benjamin Bratt, Candice Bergen and William Shatner. PG-13, for sexual references and a scene of violence.
4. Pay It Forward (2000). Strong acting by Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt and the remarkable Haley Joel Osment and restrained writing and direction (from Leslie Dixon and Mimi Leder) win us over, much against our better judgment, to this sentimental fantasy. PG-13, for mature thematic elements, including substance abuse recovery, some sexual situations, language and brief violence.
5. Finding Forrester (2000). "Good Will Hunting" in the Bronx. A well-oiled piece of Hollywood machinery, tolerably entertaining until it piles on the contrivances at the close. Sean Connery is the film's star, but his I'm-crankier-than-you-are performance feels like a reprise of greatest hits. More affecting is the debut work done by Rob Brown. PG-13, for language and some sexual references.
* Last week's Top 5 DVD rentals:
1. Vertical Limit
2. What Women Want
3. Miss Congeniality
4. Pay It Forward
5. Men of Honor (2000). The life of Carl Brashear, the first African American Navy diver, has been turned into socially critical pop mythology at its most potent. Cuba Gooding Jr.'s Brashear is pitted against Robert De Niro, a fictionalized composite of all the racists Brashear endured. R, for language.
* Last week's Top 5 VHS sellers:
1. The Emperor's New Groove (2000). A lighthearted animated adventure-morality tale ideal for youngsters yet conceived with a wit and sophistication that will be appreciated by their parents. This story of how a spoiled, petulant Incan ruler (voice of David Spade) who gets turned into a llama features the also splendidly cast voices of John Goodman, Eartha Kitt, Patrick Warburton and Wendie Malick. G.
2. Miss Congeniality
3. Gone in 60 Seconds (2000). Remake of H.B. "Toby" Halicki's 1974 cult classic about a legendary car thief (Nicolas Cage) who is drawn out of retirement to save the life of his brother (Giovanni Ribisi), also a car thief. The movie, which co-stars Angelina Jolie, features some fine driving, but the problem is not what "Gone" does on the straightaways; it's how it maneuvers through those hard-to-handle character curves. PG-13, for violence, sexuality and language.
4. 102 Dalmatians (2000). Glenn Close's ferocious Cruella De Vil up to her old tricks, eager as ever, despite temporary reform, to create a cloak made of the skins of Dalmatian puppies. Gerard Depardieu is her aide de camp (in all senses of the word). Some scenes of violence that strain its G rating. G.
5. Mission: Impossible 2 (2000). Hong Kong action-meister John Woo brings his marvelous visual sense and showy flair to this follow-up to the 1996 blockbuster. Tom Cruise, looking a bit shaggier but still appropriately steely-eyed in this new incarnation of special agent Ethan Hunt, is one of "M:I-2's" strongest weapons. With Dougray Scott, Thandie Newton and Ving Rhames. PG-13, for intense sequences of violent action and some sensuality.
* Last week's Top 5 DVD sellers:
1. Vertical Limit
2. Dungeons and Dragons (2000). Movie version of the celebrated/notorious role-playing game is high on sorcery and noise, low on coherence. Plenty of bad acting, though. With Justin Whalin, Marlon Wayans, Bruce Payne and Jeremy Irons. PG-13, for fantasy action violence.
3. What Women Want
4. Miss Congeniality
5. The Emperor's New Groove
Tuesday: "Cast Away," "O Brother, Where Art Thou?," "Venus Beauty Institute."
June 19: "The Pledge," "Proof of Life," "Save the Last Dance," "State and Main."
June 26: "The Claim," "Dude, Where's My Car?," "Unbreakable," "You Can Count on Me."
July 3: "The Body," "Dracula 2000," "Head Over Heels," "Snatch," "The Wedding Planner."
July 10: "Malena," "Monkeybone," "Thirteen Days."
Rental video charts provided by VSDAVidTrac, sales charts by VideoScan Inc.