Action conductor Yuen Woo-ping teams adult with Donnie Yen and Michelle Yeoh for a follow-up to Ang Lee’s 2000 Oscar winner.
Taking a page from a asocial Hollywood book that hoists sequels no one wants (Terminator Salvation, Grown Ups 2) onto cinema-goers, The Weinstein Company teams adult with China Film Group, a country’s biggest producer, for a delay of a tale started in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. It’s never a good pointer when exhibitor bondage and distributors make it formidable to find a movie, or improved nonetheless cancel early (paid) preview screenings, and so a harbingers for movement executive and choreographer-turned-filmmaker Yuen Woo-ping’s supplement to Ang Lee’s Oscar-winner are meaningful to contend a least. Set for far-reaching recover in Hong Kong and China a week before a Netflix premiere and singular melodramatic screenings in a US during a finish of February, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny seems primed to be greeted with extended indifference. Polished prolongation and a sincerely clever oddity cause should acquire a film teenager box bureau success in a “home” markets, though over that a standing as a diseased supplement to a niche film (regardless of a $200 million transport worldwide) will make for a stronger Netflix pull than melodramatic one.
Set roughly 20 years after everybody dies or retires to privacy during a finish of a initial film, Sword of Destiny picks adult with a warlord, Hades Dai (Jason Scott Lee, still best know for Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story), violent in Middle Earth, er, western China, looking for a mythological sword, a Green Destiny. Kept protected in a city by her now-deceased former master Te, Yu Shu Lien (Michelle Yeoh) learns of a hazard and calls on her Iron Way brethren to assistance strengthen it. Among them is Silent Wolf (Donnie Yen, Ip Man), a reticent soldier form from Shu Lien’s past and who was a aspirant for her love with Li Mu Bai.
Even with Yuen valiantly channeling (or straight-up imitating) Lee’s stylistic flourishes from a original, there’s small in John Fusco’s (Marco Polo, Hidalgo) screenplay for him, or anyone, to fasten onto and run with. The regretful junction hankie that done Lee’s film so poetic, romantic, comfortless and stirring is blank here, shortening Sword of Destiny to a array of loosely associated quarrel sequences and gauzy, sensational flashbacks. Kicking off with a extensively info dump doesn’t assistance in deliver a new story or players either. As Shu Lien travels to Te’s commemorative service, Dai’s bandits conflict her carriage and she gets her initial glance of Wei-fang (Harry Shum Jr., Glee), a immature coadjutor charged with anticipating a arms for Dai. After violation into a city and a cover a Green Destiny rests in after on (cue a wordless rooftop parkour), he’s foiled, initially, by Snow Vase (newcomer Natasha Liu Bordizzo). They fight, he’s jailed, she starts training with Shu Lien and sarcastic with Wei-fang, that creates them a second “romantic” pair.
The new era is appealing enough, if bland, regardless of a default of element to penetrate their teeth into. These are archetypes rather than wholly reailzed characters. Neither Liu Bordizzo nor Shum can do most with their ingénue sense (they both play a spin of a lady during a crossroads that done Zhang Ziyi a star in 2000) and so boyant from quarrel set square to set square though withdrawal a durability impression. Yen looks wearied during best, and Lee is no improved than a blueprint of a villain. Yeoh fares best among a cast, though she also has a advantage of personification a sense viewers are informed with; she doesn’t have to work that tough to reconstruct Shu Lien. All are asked to repeat a same platitudes about respect and duty, and seem tired for it.
Less actively bad than it is plodding, Sword of Destiny is scarcely 100 percent giveaway of expel chemistry (Yeoh and Yen are quite awkward) and relies heavily on well-worn tract beats and repeated motifs. Really, how many times can a male-female soldier integrate behind adult to any other in a scrum and unleash a mutual, enlivening nod? (Answer: many.) Shot in New Zealand, Grant Major’s (Whale Rider, Heavenly Creatures) prolongation design, Newton Thomas Sigel’s (Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive, X-Men: Days of Future Past) photography and visible effects by Mark Stetson (The Grey, The Lord of a Rings) are all tip notch, if not greatly innovative. The film does have a few noted set pieces, customarily one on a solidified lake, though in ubiquitous a movement and martial choreography comes off as pedestrian—a deadly blunder in a wuxia film.
Above all, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny is product rather than a film: an nonessential supplement 15 years after a fact that’s attempting to money in on a reputable skill in a reformed media age. If zero else, a perfect volume of amicable media “partners” and managers (evidenced by a long finish credit hurl that puffs adult a film’s using time by good over 5 minutes) prove an wholly fake selling plan during work. And screening in oral a Cantonese (in Hong Kong, Putonghua in China) dub rather than in a strange English can’t assistance either. Bad dubbing is distracting in any language. Sword of Destiny feels like Wong Kar-wai’s Grandmaster in that it feel incomplete, like there’s a longer, improved film in an modifying room somewhere only watchful for Blu-ray. A missed event given a talent in front of and behind a camera, it begs a doubt of what they could have achieved if everybody directed for originality.
Production company: China Film Group, Pegasus Taihe Entertainment, The Weinstein Company, Yucaipa Films
US distributor: Netflix, The Weinstein Company
Cast: Donnie Yen, Michelle Yeoh, Harry Shum Jr., Natasha Liu Bordizzo, Jason Scott Lee, Eugenia Yuan, Roger Yuan, Juju Chan, Chris Pang, Woon Young Park, Darryl Quon
Director: Yuen Woo-ping
Screenwriter: John Fusco, formed on a book by Wang Dulu
Producer: Charlie Nguyen, Peter Berg
Executive producer: La Peikang, Jay Sun, Morten Tyldum, Ron Burke, Ted Sarandos, Pauline Fischer, Sarah Bowen, Bob Weinstein, Anthony W.F. Wong, David C. Glasser, Sarah Aubrey, Ralph Winter, David Thwaites, Jeff Betancourt
Director of photography: Newton Thomas Sigel
Production designer: Grant Major
Costume designer: Ngila Dickson
Editor: Jeff Betancourt
Music: Shigeru Umebayashi
Casting: Mary Vernieu, Marisol Roncali, Tina Cleary, Miranda Rivers
World sales: The Weinstein Company
PG-13, 102 minutes