Martial Arts/Action/Romance

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny

Distributed by: Netflix and The Weinstein Company

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            I truly enjoyed Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, so when I learned that Netflix would be airing a sequel to the film, I couldnít wait to check it out.  I worried though - with only Michelle Yeoh reprising her role, would this film be as good as the last?  As a big fan of Yeohís work, I decided to keep an open mind.

            Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny takes place eighteen years after the death of famed Wudan disciple, warrior and swordsman Li Mu-bai.  Famed warrior Yu Shu-lien (Michelle Yeoh) has spent many years in retirement, mourning the loss of the man she loved.  She has now returned to Peking to mourn yet another loved one - Sir Te, a former ruler of the region and a man who was like a father to Yu Shu-lien. 

            While en route to Peking, Yu Shu-lienís convoy is attacked by warriors from the West Lotus Clan.  She is aided in fighting them off by a mysterious masked warrior who disappears before she can thank him.  One member of the West Lotus Clan, Wei-Fang (Harry Shum, Jr.) escapes and encounters an enchantress (Eugenia Yuan) who demands to be taken to his leader Hades Dai (Jason Scott Lee).  The enchantress convinces Hades Dai that he must travel to travel to Sir Teís compound and capture the Green Destiny sword, thus enabling him to become ruler of the martial world.

            Meanwhile, Yu Shu-lien, upon realizing that the sword that once belonged to Li Mu-bai has not been hidden, but is prominently on display warns Sir Teís son that the sword should be taken to the mountains where it can be hidden from all who seek its power.  Deep into the night, two attempt to steal the sword - Wei-fang and Snow Vase (Natasha Liu Bordizzo), a young woman supposedly at the compound to mourn Sir Te.  When the commotion of their fight over the sword is overheard, Snow Vase pretends to have captured Wei-fang and he is imprisoned, but Yu Shu-lien is suspicious.

            Snow Vase asks Yu Shu-lien to train her in the Iron Way and, knowing that more members of the West Lotus Clan will come for the sword, Yu Chu-lien is hard pressed to decline the request.  In fact, she sends out an alert, asking followers of the Iron Way to come to the compound and defend the sword.  And come they do, led by Silent Wolf (Donnie Yen) the mysterious man who came to Yu Shu-lienís aid earlier.  Now no longer masked, Yu Shu-lien knows him by a much different name. 

            Can the two put aside their past drama to protect the sword and the people of the compound from the ruthless clutches of Hades Dai and his followers?

            There has been much criticism of this film, but I think the criticism stems from comparing this new film with its predecessor.  I think to do that is a mistake.  One must watch Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny with the original film in mind, but the two should not be placed in comparison to one another.  First of all, this is a new story, stemming from the original.  Second, the film was run by a different director and produced by a different company.  It is adapted from a Du Lu Wang novel Iron Knight, Silver Vase.  That and the fact that Michelle Yeoh is in this movie comprises the only similarities between the two.  Even the Green Destiny sword is different looking in this film.

            Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny doesnít contain the ballet dance flow of the original Crouching Tiger, but thatís okay.  It has its own flow, minus the wingless soaring through trees that annoyed me so in the original.  Sure, there are those lighter than air moments in this film, but they are not used as much, lending a more realistic feel to the fight scenes. 

            The love story of Yu Shu-lien gets an update of sorts, from an old flame.  And, yes, as in the original, the two younger leads are from opposite sides of the track and fall in love, but there story is much more interesting than that of Jen and Bo.  The truth behind Snow Vaseís interest in Wei-fang isnít revealed until the moments before the final battle of the film and I found the love story that more interesting thanks to the mystery from which it spouted.

            The fight scenes were incredible and the martial arts choreography amazing.  Though I enjoyed them all, I loved the fight scene in the tavern in which Silent Wolf meets new allies Flying Blade (Chris Pang), Thunder Fist Chan (Woon Young Park), Silver Dart Shi (JuJu Chan) and Turtle Ma (Darryl Quon), each having their own unique fighting style.  Another favorite is the fight between Wei-fang and Snow Vase, made all the more interesting by the acrobatics performed in the attempt to keep the battle quiet.

            My only problem with this film is that it is performed in English.  Quite honestly, I have no preference for dubbed or subtitled films, but for some reason it seemed wrong for some of the characters to be speaking with English accents.  It kind of threw things off a bitÖnot much, but a little bit.

            That being said, I have told all of my friends who enjoyed the first film to see Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny.  Featuring an interesting storyline, romance and some awesome action scenes, they are bound to love it just as much as I did.


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