Movie Name: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny
Studio: China Film Group
Genre(s): Martial Arts/Action/Adventure
Release Date(s): February 18, 2016 (Premiere)/February 26, 2016 (US)
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Sir Te has died and the Green Destiny is left unprotected. Yu Shu-Lien (Michelle Yeoh) has returned to keep the sword out of the hands of Hades Dai (Jason Scott Lee) who intends to use its legendary power to take over. Yu Shu-Lien learns her former love Meng Sizhao “Silent Wolf” (Donnie Yen) was never killed and has returned to help her protect the sword, but Yu Shu-Lien also finds herself with a new student in a woman named Snow Vase (Natasha Liu Bordizzo). Snow Vase seems to know one of Hades Dai’s agents named Wei-fang (Harry Shum Jr.)…is Snow Vase a savior or could she end up destroying everything that Silent Wolf and Yu Shu-Lien are fighting for?
Directed by Yeun Woo-ping, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny (卧虎藏龙：青冥宝剑) is a follow-up to the internationally acclaimed 2000 film. The film is loosely based on Wang Dulu’s fifth book in The Crane-Iron Series known as Iron Knight, Silver Vase. The film premiered in Hong Kong on February 18, 2016 and was released by Netflix in the United States on February 26, 2016.
I loved Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. I heard about it before it was released and couldn’t wait to see it from the visuals I had seen. It was one of those rare anticipated films that I wasn’t disappointed when I finally got to see it…and I saw it multiple times. I was pretty leery of a sequel without Ang Lee’s involvement but I was happy to see Michelle Yeoh return. The movie is very true to the spirit of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, but time hasn’t been kind to the genre.
When Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was released, there was an explosion of similar wire-work films that were released in the United States…it seemed like there were swordsmen flying everywhere for a couple of years. The market was flooded and they all possessed similar stories of heroes, women fighting gender roles, and revenge. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny suffers from simply being another one of these stories. In addition to similarities to other movies’ storylines, there are weird parallels between this film and the original Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon…but instead of feeling like a homage, it feels a bit more like a remake.
The cast is pretty good. Michelle Yeoh still shows she has both skill as an action hero and a dramatic actress and I wish that she had more available to her. Donnie Yen’s character feels a little forced (due to essentially replacing Chow Yun-fat whose character died) but at least he is somewhat explained. The dynamic between Harry Shum Jr. and Natasha Liu Bordizzo isn’t as developed as the romance in the original film, but both actors are good at their role. Jason Scott Lee is a bit over the top as the nearly maniacal Hades Dai.
The fighting is still good, but it also feels less like wirework and more like computer generated fighters at points. The movie also feel slide retread on rooftop chases and battles like the lake frozen lake fight. In addition to this, the movie has a bit more of a cartoon-y feel with both the protectors and people trying to take the sword having almost goofy “powers” (but they virtually all get mowed down which is a plus).
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny would have been great if Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon never had existed. It still has a lot of the wonder of the film and some of the class, but it just never quite reaches anywhere near the level of the original. Still, there is something about the movie that takes me back to the wonder of seeing Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon for the first time…though I’d rather just watch that instead.