Granger on Movies: ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny’
Fairfield Citizen film critic Susan Granger reviews the new movie, “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny.”
Back in 2000, Ang Lee’s innovative martial-arts masterpiece, “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” stunned filmgoers, winning several Academy Awards and becoming the top-grossing foreign film of all time.
Unfortunately, its homogenized, English-speaking sequel pales in comparison, offering too little, too late. Michelle Yeoh returns as Yu Shu Lien, the noble warrior who has chosen to live in seclusion, like a “forgotten ghost,” after the death of her beloved Li Mu Bai (played by Chow Yun Fat).
When she is paying her respects to Li Mu Bai’s family in the House of Te, the rival White Lotus clan, headed by the nefarious warlord Hades Dei (Jason Scott Lee), dispatches a stealthy thief, Wei Fang (Harry Shum Jr.), to steal the sacred ancestral sword, known as the Green Destiny.
Yu Shu Lien captures him, aided by lithe, young Snow Vase (Natasha Liu Bordizzo), who yearns to become her apprentice when she’s not dallying with Wei Fang, who has been caged in the courtyard.
As the wise and wary heroine, 53-year-old Michelle Yeoh is magnificent, aided by an international cast, including Donnie Yen (“Ip Man”) and Harry Shum Jr. (TV’s “Glee), and abetted by characters with colorful names like Thunder Fist and Silver Dart.
Scripted by John Fusco from Wang Dulu’s five-book “Crane-Iron Series” and shot in New Zealand, it’s burdened by scant character development and a solemn, pseudo-spiritual plot that grows increasingly boring between veteran director/choreographer Yuen Woo-ping’s balletic wire-work.
There are several battles, one in a rustic tavern and another atop the tiled roof of a temple, but they seem slickly familiar and repetitive — and the CGI is obvious. The most original — and memorable — encounter takes place on a frozen lake with the combatants sliding and skating as they fight.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny” is a high-flying 5, lacking the distinctive elegance of its predecessor.