Released fifteen years prior, the original Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon was showered with accolades receiving four Oscars but six nominations which included Best Director for Ang Lee. It’s one of the best martial arts movies in living memory and it was received with open arms. The sequel is now available on Netflix and various cinemas in the United States as well as in China too. The sequel, Sword Of Destiny is directed by Yuen Woo-Ping (Drunken Master) and picks up eighteen years after the original movie ended. Michelle Yeoh (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) reprises her role of Yu Shu Lien and the Green Destiny has been presumed lost by many but it is simply concealed in Peking. Sir Te from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is now deceased and Shu Lien has made a choice to return to Pekin to give her condolences. But maybe she has a second more serious agenda. Now that Sir Te is dead, there will be forces that will see this as a chance to claim the famous blade for themselves. It’s her duty to stop them and help bring peace to the valley.
What first strikes me as odd is the sword itself. For a sword that everyone believes is long-lost, a lot of people seem to know the exact location of its whereabouts. The location has been leaked and now everyone seems knows where it is. The leader of this “everybody” is the villainous Hades Dai (Jason Scott Lee) who wants the ancient blade for himself and for his own personal glory. He wants to wield it so he can become more powerful as anyone who wields the sword, or so the legend says. Hades is a seasoned warrior and he seems to be doing rather well for himself. Why does he want the sword? Well, it’s the common denominator of human thinking. Once we have something, we want something else. It’s textbook materialism. Rather than get it himself, he sends a lone warrior to retrieve it for him. Why dirty your own hands when you can get someone else to do it? In chess, the pawns go first. This lone warrior is called Wei Fang (Harry Shum, Jr.).
The sequel is dwarfed by the original. It has nothing on Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in terms of storyline, acting performances and general aesthetics. The story in this sequel is quite flimsy if I’m honest. It is very entertaining, and I liked the look of the costumes but the standout elements of the movie were the action sequences which in my opinion were on par with its predecessor. They were choreographed by Woo-Ping Yuen who worked on the fight scenes in Kill Bill (2003/04) as martial arts adviser and kung-fu choreographer on The Matrix (1999). The stunts in The Sword Of Destiny were truly excellent. Despite the lacking plot, this movie is worth a watch purely for the stunts and cinematography. The cast deliver good performances, but this is a movie made to entertain, not to enthrall audiences like the original flick did. The first movie was beautiful in all the filmed locations while this movie feels like a video game at times. However, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
I’d certainly recommend people to watch this. Netflix have been known to deliver first class programming. This is one of their weaker productions but nonetheless a good addition to their roll call. There’s great performances from the cast but it appears clichéd at times. The script is quite flimsy but I think the pacing is rather good. It’s very fast-moving from the get go as we’re thrown in the middle of fight with Michelle Yeoh in the first few minutes. It’s one of those movies that you should watch when you don’t want to take things too seriously but serious enough that it doesn’t force you to watch a tacky Adam Sandler comedy.