Fifteen years ago, Ang Lee’s masterpiece Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon captured the world’s attention. Its beautiful wirework and highly stylized storytelling changed people’s minds about what a martial arts film could be. Now, Netflix is trying to recapture that magic with a direct-to-streaming sequel, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny.
Only Michelle Yeoh returns from the original cast, back as Yu Shu-Lien and starring alongside Donnie Yen (Ip Man, The Monkey King) as Silent Wolf. The plot seems fairly close to the drive of the original in that a legendary sword is at the center of a battle for the survival of the world. There also looks to be plenty of impressive, impossible action sequences involving gravity defying flips and spins, and lots of kicked props.
It’s visually pretty well done (thanks to director Woo-Ping Yuen, fight choreographer for The Matrix and Kill Bill franchises, director of Jackie Chan’s classic Drunken Master), but something feels a little lackluster here. Even if it’s slight, the use of subpar CGI graphics takes away from the visual appeal of what made the original so compelling. And then there’s the dull subtitled that almost sounds like a parody (hi, Tenacious D) and the completely lazy tagline, “The past returns with a vengeance.” Let’s not even talk about the grossly computerized and slowed down cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Bad Moon Rising” that’s chill inducing in all the wrong ways.
Netflix is hoping to rewrite the rules of movie releases with Crouching Tiger, making it available in IMAX theaters simultaneously to its streaming release. Already theaters are boycotting the film, saying the Neflix model cuts into their own profitability, and it’s hard to imagine this film being the one that changes things the way its predecessor did.
But, well, judge for yourself. Check out the trailer below.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny hits Netflix and select (non-boycotting) IMAX screens on February 26th, 2016. Find the full synopsis below.
“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny tells an epic story of lost love, young love, a legendary sword and one last opportunity at redemption, set against breathtaking action in an epic martial arts battle between good and evil that will decide the fate of the Martial World.
Directed by the renowned martial arts choreographer (The Matrix trilogy and Kill Bill 1 & 2) and director (Tai Chi Master) Yuen Wo-Ping, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny stars Michelle Yeoh (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, The Lady) as Yu Shu-Lien and Donnie Yen (Ip Man 1 & 2, Monkey King 3D) as Silent Wolf.
Based on the acclaimed novel, Iron Knight, Silver Vase, by Wang Dulu (book 5 in the Crane-Iron Pentalogy) and written by John Fusco (Marco Polo), the new film is produced by Harvey Weinstein (Academy Award winner – The King’s Speech, The Artist) and Peter Berg (Emmy Award winner – Friday Night Lights; Lone Survivor, Hancock) and Sarah Aubrey (Friday Night Lights; Lone Survivor, Hancock) and executive produced by Morten Tyldum (Headhunters, The Imitation Game), Ralph Winter (X-Men franchise), Anthony Wong and Bey Logan (The Medallion).”