Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny, directed by Woo-Ping Yeun is a film that lacks everything that made the original so memorable. Gone are the sweeping, incredibly choreographed fight scenes, gone are the mythical and interesting characters and gone is a simple but touching story. In their place is a lot of nothing. This film is the epitome of an unnecessary and unwanted sequel and it does the most egregious thing an unwanted sequel can do and that is to completely add nothing new or anything of real worth.
The story of the film (if you can even call it a story) sees a new big evil that wants to rule the land and believes that can be done by having the legendary sword, ‘Green Destiny’ in his possession. Yu Shu Lien, played by Michelle Yeoh (the only returning character from the original film) must along with an old friend and some new protect the sword and save the people from tyrannical rule.
Now while that story synopsis may sound slightly interesting, what I must say is that the film makes no effort to build upon that bare bones story. In fact the film has so little to add or say, that it’s kind of incredible the film has anything to do at all. It feels like there is an extra 30 to 40 minutes missing from this film. There are points where characters make out of the blue decisions and we’re expected to understand and follow along with them. There were countless times in the film where I was baffled by the complete 180’s that characters would make (and no I don’t mean when they are deflecting a sword hit from behind). The whole film feels like an abridged version of a story that was already very light on content. Boredom set in quickly with this film.
A film that is so light on story could maybe made up with some well explored and interesting characters… right? Well sadly Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny (a title that was long enough to begin with) saw no reason to give us characters of worth. As I already said, Michelle Yeoh is the only returning cast member from the original film and even she has very little to offer in the way of her character. So with her having nothing new, you can imagine just how under developed the new cast of characters is going to be – unsurprisingly it’s bad.
There is an attempt at a love story in the film between Snow Vase (that’s actually her name) who is played by Natasha Liu Bordizzo and Tiefang, played by Harry Shum Jr. (who some may recognise from Glee). This may shock you but that attempt at a love story is so weak and so forced that I still don’t understand why it was in the film at all. I’m not kidding when I say that out of the 1 hour and 30 minute run time, maybe just under 7 minutes (and that’s me being generous) of that is dedicated to setting it up and then seeing it through to its conclusion.
The film also attempts to have a villain – Hades Dai, played by Jason Scott Lee is that villain. It’s at this point that I’d like to give my thoughts on him but his character plays such a one-dimensional role in the film, a role that is not explored in any way whatsoever, that I don’t really have anything of worth to add about him. Which I guess says it all.
That lack of giving anytime to anything of substance in the film is sadly thrust upon all of elements of the film. Donnie Yen plays Silent Wolf in the film (some may recognise him from the far superior Ip Man films) and along with a band of plucky fighters sets out to protect the sword. That’s kind of it for them, sure they’re fun in the action sequences (which don’t worry I’m coming too) but outside of them they are as bland as can be and when *Spoiler Alert* some of them meet their demise, I couldn’t have cared less *Spoilers Over*. This complete lack of attachment or care for any of the characters does then bleed into the action sequences of the film, something that was very important to get right.
Woo-Ping Yeun who directed this film was the man who originally did the choreographing of the fights and the stunts in the original film. So going into this film I was a little confident in what we’d see from him as the director. I’m sad to say that from maybe one or two scenes, the fight sequences are bland as can be.
While they are certainly cinematic and from a choreographing stand point are technically very well done, there is a noticeable sense of life or excitement missing from them. None of the fight scenes even come close to the kind of grandiose scale of the original. In the original Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon there are some truly unforgettable scenes and in this film there isn’t one that I can instantly remember, and I just watched the film 30 minutes ago. Why I think the fight scenes are so devoid of anything is all to do with the films insistence of having no characters or a reason really for me or anyone to be invested in them.
I’ve said it many times already but this is a film devoid of anyone or anything worth caring about and thus when it came to me being engrossed by any of the fights in the film, I just couldn’t muster up anything. Because of that lifelessness that the film has in it, it means that what should be intense, thrilling fight scenes are instead these nothing moments, in which to a small extent I could appreciate but on the grand scale of things couldn’t have any interest for. And of course it’s all made worse in the end when some ugly CGI makes its way into them.
This was a film that no one asked for and this film highlights the reasons why. We all knew that it couldn’t match what the original did, and to be honest no one wanted it to. We were happy with what we got and only if an evolution in what had come before then occurred would it have been a film worth anyone’s time.
I have absolutely no reason to recommend Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny. There is a line in the beginning of the film which I think, in a way, describes it aptly, “Slips into this world like a forgotten ghost”. I’ll leave it at that.
So what are your thoughts on Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny? Feel free to let me know in the comments down below. If you’d like to keep up to date on my other reviews then please either follow my Blog or follow me on Twitter – @GavinsTurtle. All that’s left to say is have a good week and enjoy some good cinema.