Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: The Sword Of Destiny (2016) - Michelle Yeoh , Donnie Yen

It can't be easy to create a follow up to an influential and critically acclaimed film. So when it was announced that there would be a sequel to Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, I decided to keep an open mind, until I have seen the movie for myself.

 Set eighteen years after the end of the first Crouching Tiger, Yu Shu Lien who is thankfully still played by Michelle Yeoh has emerged out of hiding to once again protect the sword, Green Destiny, this time from an evil warlord. Michelle Yeoh still plays the part well, but there seems to be too much of a homage to the first film, so it is a little hard not to draw comparisons when the film is openly inviting you to do so with every turn. I'm not sure if this is coming from the source material, which is the novel where it is based on, but the reminders are a bit irritating and does not work at all. Take for example the character of Snow Vase played by Natasha Liu Bordizzo , it is obvious that she is meant to draw parallels with Jen Yu who was played by Zhang Ziyi in the original movie. For her first scene she actually walked in wearing similar clothes to Jen Yu.

That could have been handled better , instead of making her a Zhang Ziyi stand-in, she should have been allowed to stand on her own, Even if (and I'm assuming here) that she was meant to remind Yu Shu Lien of Jen Yu in the novel, they should have done it in a more subtle way. Because frankly her character was all over the place, by trying to be Jen Yu she falls flat.

None of the other supporting character fared any better. So many of them died , but you wind up not caring for them. I know that there is a limited screen time , but maybe lessening the ensemble cast would have allowed them to be more than just one dimensional characters. Then there is the main villain , Hades Dai played by Jason Scott Lee was a walking caricature. We had no idea what drove him , what he cared about, he was just simply there to be bad.
Another thing that bothers me about this movie is that it doesn't feel like a Wuxia film . I grew up watching movies of that genre and this one is too westernized. The fight choreography was okay, but there is something about how they paced it, and framed it on the screen that feels off. When you watch Wuxia films today from Hongkong, China or Taiwan , fight scenes are shot like a dance , and every frame is a painting. I can see that they attempted to do this, but failed in the nuance. The fights were well done brawls , but they aren't the aesthetically beautiful scenes that Asian cinema is so good at.

The worst mistake though that they did, is the addition of magic. There is nothing wrong with a dash of mysticism, in this film. A seer who spouts prophecy is fine, but the other magic stuff was wrong it felt like, how aliens was added to Indiana Jones, it ruined the continuity and was just ridiculous. Also the CGI , special effects was too much in your face that it looked really fake , again it should have been more subtle.
This movie is sort of entertaining, but really at the core it is bad. If you have seen the first Crouching Tiger, this would be a massive disappointment.It is the sort film that you tend to watch when you are bored and have nothing better to do.

Watch Trailer Here

Directed by: Yeun Woo-Ping

Michelle Yeoh as Yu Shu Lien
Donnie Yen as Silent Wolf
Harry Shum Jr. as Wei-Fang
Natasha Liu Bordizzo as Snow Vase
Jason Scott Lee as Hades Dai

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